FORT WORTH, Texas (KXAN) — On Wednesday, Republican attorneys general will take the latest stab at dismantling the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading the fight against Democratic attorneys general to determine whether the government can require health insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions.
They faced off Wednesday in front of Fort Worth-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor. The GOP attorneys general are asking for a preliminary injunction that would put the law on hold while the case moves through court.
In 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Affordable Care Act. The justices ruled the law was constitutional because the foundation of the law, requiring people to have health insurance, was allowed under the taxing powers of Congress.
However, when the GOP took over Congress in 2016, they repealed the penalty for people without insurance, called the “individual mandate.”
Without that measure, 18 Republican attorneys general sued the federal government over the ACA because the reason it was found constitutional was no longer there.
“The Supreme Court held Obamacare was only tethered to the Constitution by a very thin thread — the fact that the individual penalty raised some revenue. Congress severed that thin thread with the tax act of 2017, and all of Obamacare must fall,” Paxton wrote Wednesday.
For many Texans with pre-existing conditions, this lawsuit could impact what health insurance they have access to.
When she was 16 years old, Erin Smith was diagnosed with lupus.
Without around 11 pills a night, her white blood cells would attack her lungs and kidneys. After college, she worked for a small nonprofit that didn’t provide health insurance. She had to get her own.
“I was told over and over and over again that they could not insure me because I had a pre-existing condition,” said Smith.
After the Affordable Care Act, health insurance through her job is required to cover pre-existing conditions. Now Erin fears losing her current protections.
“Does that mean that I don’t get the privilege to live? Does that mean that I don’t get the privilege to work and contribute to our society because without access to health care I can’t do those,” said Smith.
Whatever the ruling in this district court, the lawsuit will likely continue until it is in front of the United States Supreme Court again.