DENVER — Another legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act is threatening healthcare for hundreds of thousands of Coloradans.
On Tuesday, oral arguments were heard in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans regarding potentially striking down the controversial healthcare law, seven years after the Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional.
“A whole lot of anger, honestly, I’m really tired of this argument,” said Rachel Wall, a Coloradan with pre-existing conditions.
Wall said she was denied healthcare prior to the ACA.
“Every denied claim, every rejection from insurance — it made me believe I didn’t deserve to be happy,” Wall said.
Approximately 700,000 Coloradans have pre-existing conditions protected by Obamacare.
Around 400,000 are on Medicaid through the Medicaid expansion granted under the law.
Roughly 100,000 are on Colorado’s exchange.
So, why is another lawsuit happening?
It all started in 2017 when Congress passed President Donald Trump’s tax plan.
The tax reform eliminated tax penalties for not having insurance.
Now, 20 Republican attorneys general around the country believe they have a case to have the law ruled unconstitutional. That’s because Chief Justice John Roberts justified upholding the law by saying Congress can tax whatever it wants. Since that tax is no longer law, the question is whether the entire law can now be overturned.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is part of a coalition of Democratic attorneys general attempting to defend the law.
“For me, this case is about two things: the rule of law and protecting people who have insurance,” Weiser said.
Weiser believes the individual mandate can still be upheld because a law can exist even though there are zero penalties.
Weiser also believes it’s inaccurate to think an entire law can be struck down over a tax.
“They say because we think the individual mandate is unconstitutional, every other part of this law can be struck down. That argument goes against well-established legal principles,” Weiser said.
Trump, however, is on the side of conservative attorneys general.
In March, he said, “hopefully, we will win at the appellate division and go to the Supreme Court to terminate Obamacare.”