Massachusetts at risk if health care law struck down

Health insurance coverage in Massachusetts could be adversely affected by a Texas judge’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is invalid, said health policy experts in a December 18, 2018 Boston Globe article.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled on December 14 that because Congress voted last year to eliminate the ACA’s penalty for not having health insurance, the whole ACA is invalid because it cannot be separated from that provision.

O’Connor’s decision is being appealed and the ACA will remain in place as the issue moves through the court system. But if the decision is upheld it could lead to more people being uninsured in Massachusetts, even though the state has its own universal health care law, experts said. That’s because the state relies on federal funding to help cover low-income residents in its Medicaid program as well as people enrolled in subsidized health plans through the Massachusetts Health Connector.

“In a normal universe, a preposterous case like this would have never gotten out of a district court level—but these are not normal times,” John McDonough, professor of the practice of public health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told the Globe. Unless the Texas ruling is overturned, “there’s no way Massachusetts could escape severe damage,” he said.

Read the Boston Globe article: Mass. ‘not immune’ to ripple effect of health care law ruling