3 Things To Know About The Affordable Care Act Hearing In Fort Worth | KERA News

3 Things To Know About The Affordable Care Act Hearing In Fort Worth

Sep 5, 2018

Texas is trying to stop the Affordable Care Act — and argued as much in federal court in Fort Worth Wednesday. 

The state leads a contingent of 20 Republican states suing to get rid of the Obama administration's health care law. They argue the entire law should be thrown out after Congress eliminated the tax penalty portion of the law last year. 

That penalty for not having health insurance, which is $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of your household income, whichever is higher, is off the books in 2019. 

Meanwhile, California leads the ACA's defense, which is unique because the federal government said in June that they wouldn't defend the health care law in court. California argued Wednesday that gutting the law would strip more than 30 million Americans with pre-existing conditions of health care. 

Here are three things that happened during arguments in the case at the federal courthouse in Fort Worth Wednesday morning.

1. California versus Texas?

The California versus Texas dynamic was in play Wednesday with the federal government not defending the ACA. 

Darren McCarty with the Texas attorney general's office said in the courtroom that once the individual mandate falls, so does the entire ACA.

Neli Palma with the California attorney general's office later countered that Texas and the other states were seeking to "blow-up" the status quo. 

2. Does the ACA's individual mandate require you to buy health insurance?

District Judge Reed O'Connor questioned California's lawyers about the ACA's individual mandate and whether it requires someone to buy health insurance. 

Nimrod Elias with the California attorney general's office told the judge that there is always a lawful choice, noting that the choice does not change despite the lack of a tax penalty starting in 2019. 

Moreover, Elias said the taxing power still exists. 

"They can raise it again at any time," he said of Congress. 

3. What about the federal government?

Lawyers with the federal government said multiple times Wednesday that they oppose a preliminary injunction, noting that it could throw the health insurance markets into chaos. 

So, what's next? Judge O'Connor said he'd rule "soon" in closing, but California — lawyers from Oregon and the District of Columbia were also in the courtroom — said they'd appeal any injunction instantly.