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Colorado Democrats are vowing to vigorously fight for Obamacare in the wake of a Texas judge’s ruling late last week that every facet of the Affordable Care Act, including its popular protections for preexisting conditions, are unconstitutional.
“The judge’s decision on the Affordable Care Act is wrong, legally and morally. It must be reversed,” Colorado Attorney General-elect Phil Weiser said in an email statement. “Just as I promised on the campaign trail, I will join the appeal to stand up for the ACA.”
The ACA remains the law of the land for 2019 – meaning anyone still in need of health insurance for the coming year should still sign up at Connect for Health Colorado by the Jan. 15 deadline. But the law’s fate now hinges on appeals and a possible U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Because Colorado has its own exchange, people seeking individual or small-group coverage by Feb. 1 can sign up until Jan. 15. The deadline for Jan. 1 coverage was Dec. 15, and 156,101 Coloradans signed up by then – an increase of 5 percent over the same period last year.
“For years, Republicans have tried to dismantle the Affordable Care Act,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet said via email. “After trying and failing over 70 times to repeal the bill without offering a replacement, Republicans added a provision to last year’s disastrous tax bill to sabotage the individual mandate, providing the argument used in the Texas court’s ruling.”
Enrollment in the ACA is down more than 10 percent nationally – due in part to the stripping out of the law’s individual mandate in the Republican tax reform bill of 2017. Surveys show a majority of Americans support Obamacare, which factored into the recent midterm elections.
“The ACA is not perfect, but it has provided health care coverage to millions of Coloradans and Americans with preexisting conditions and coverage for essential health benefits,” Bennet said. “Republicans should abandon their efforts to attack the ACA and instead work with Democrats to fix its flaws, so that we can provide quality, affordable health care coverage to every American.”
President Donald Trump called the ruling by federal Judge Reed O’Connor of Texas in favor of 20 Republican state attorneys general and GOP officials a “victory” that will force Democrats to negotiate a replacement.
“We’ll be sitting down with the Democrats and we will get great health care for our people; that’s a repeal and replace, handled a bit differently,” Trump said, according to Axios.
Colorado healthcare advocates say they’ll keep fighting for the existing law, which has gained traction in many parts of the state.
“This unprecedented attack and irresponsibleRepublican lawsuit is the biggest threat for consumers in the Trump Administration’s relentless efforts to sabotage the ACA,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.
“This court case could strip more than 600,000 Coloradans of the health coverage they need, throw the insurance market into chaos, and leave our state budget in crisis. Lives are at stake in this court case,” Fox added.