Earlier this month, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, throwing the ever-imperiled healthcare law into, well, even more peril. There was some confusion, after the ruling, as to whether or not the ACA would still be valid going into 2019. But on Sunday, the judge who struck the law down issued a stay, leaving the law in place. For now.
According to The New York Times, federal judge Reed O’Connor has confirmed the ACA will stay in place pending an appeal to his December 14 ruling by a California-led coalition of 16 states. The states plan to challenge O’Connor’s assertion both that the ACA’s individual mandate is unconstitutional, and that the rest of the law can’t stand up without it.
O’Connor, who says the law should remain in place for now “because many everyday Americans would otherwise face great uncertainty”—how thoughtful of him—believes the states challenging his ruling are “unlikely to succeed,” though legal scholars suspect the ACA might be saved in the Supreme Court. Still, should the ACA fall, millions of Americans stand to lose coverage, including those with pre-existing conditions and young adults under the age of 26, who are permitted to stay on their parents’ insurance under the law.
Since Trump’s election in 2016, the ACA has felt interminably on tenterhooks, thanks to state and federal efforts either to chip away at its protections (not to mention the Republican Congress’s formidable, if failed, attempts or do away with it entirely.) It is a rickety, imperfect law that saves lives but still fails to provide affordable coverage to many Americans, and even with a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, the attacks on it are seemingly endless.