Twenty million Americans, 4.1 million here in Michigan, are once again playing the waiting game in regard to their health care under the Affordable Care Act.

U.S District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled in favor of a 2018 lawsuit, filed by more than a dozen Republican-led states that said the ACA was unconstitutional because the 2017 GOP tax law phased out the individual mandate penalty. With no fine for those who refuse to buy insurance, the suit argued that the mandate is now unconstitutional, and since it’s a central part of the law, so is the entire ACA.

The U.S. House and several Democratic-led states filed an appeal on Judge O’Connor’s ruling. The three-judge panel for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of the ACA. Each side was given just 45 minutes to plead their case and now it’s up to these judges to determine the fate of 20 million Americans.

Since its passage in 2010, the GOP has done everything it could to repeal the ACA. Instead of taking the ACA as a starting point and building a better and more robust health care system they continue to condemn it. It’s like a couple trying to figure out where to go for dinner.

“Let’s go to Joe’s Diner.”

“No I don’t want to go there.”

“Why? What’s wrong with Joe’s?”

“I don’t know. I just don’t like it.”

“OK where do you want to go?”

“Oh, I don’t care. You pick.”

“I did pick, but you don’t like it.”

“OK we’ll go to Joe’s, but I will not be happy.”

“So suggest something else!”

“I can’t think of anything, so let’s just go.”

That’s the GOP. They don’t like it but for nine years they’ve never presented a plan to replace it. We’ve heard of this mystery plan being readied but to date it’s still not available. Go ahead and call Jack Bergman’s office (231-944-7633) and ask for a written copy of the GOP Health Plan designed to replace the ACA. The silence will be deafening.

But here’s the kicker. With all their maneuvering they may finally get what they’ve wished for. It might very well become the proverbial “dog catches the bus” scenario. They final got their wish and haven’t the vaguest idea what to do with it. When asked about the lawsuit Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D) said, “Do I hope the lawsuit succeeds? I do, but what I wish is we had some idea where we are going if it does succeed, as it looks more and more like it might”.

If the lawsuit does succeed it will not only adversely affect 20 million Americans, it will throw the entire insurance industry into turmoil as well. Since its inception the insurance industry has had to adjust coverages and premiums every year as the GOP continued its barrage of legislative and court challenges to the ACA.

All we keep hearing is if the law is declared unconstitutional they will protect those individuals with pre-existing conditions. But the Affordable Care Act provides far more than just protecting those with pre-existing conditions:

  • The ACA allows kids up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ plans.
  • The ACA expanded Medicaid, providing coverage for nearly 2.5 million people in Michigan. Of those, 700,000 were added with the expansion allowed by the ACA.
  • The ACA requires most plans to cover preventive care on both private and government sponsored plans covering over 138 million people.
  • The ACA improved mental health and substance us disorder coverage. Prior to the ACA of those coved by private insurance 18 percent had no mental health coverage and 34 percent had no substance abuse coverage.

Millions of Americans who gained health coverage through the ACA are now in jeopardy of losing their coverage and going back to the “good old days.”

The days of no coverage for pre-existing conditions, no preventative care and insurance companies legally discriminating. Leaving 20 million Americans caught in the crosshairs of partisan politics wondering why?

Fred L. Goldenberg is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and the owner of Senior Benefit Solutions, LLC, a financial services and certified health insurance organization in Traverse City. Questions or comments about this column or interest in our monthly Medicare classes can be directed to (231) 922-1010 or fred@srbenefitsolutions.com.