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Consumers with Pre-Existing Conditions Following Obamacare Court Case in TX

The Affordable Care Act currently prohibits insurance companies from denying or charging more for coverage of people with pre-existing conditions, including diabetes. (USAF)
The Affordable Care Act currently prohibits insurance companies from denying or charging more for coverage of people with pre-existing conditions, including diabetes. (USAF)
July 9, 2019

DENVER — The Affordable Care Act is set to undergo another "stress test" this week, and health coverage for more than half a million Coloradans and other protections are at stake.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to hear oral arguments Tuesday in a case brought by Texas and 19 other Republican-led states. If the appeals court sides with a lower-court ruling, the ACA could be repealed.

Rachel Wall, a patient advocate with a pre-existing health condition, said she does not want to go back to life before Obamacare.

"Before the ACA, when pre-existing conditions could be held against you, I either couldn't get health insurance or I could only get very costly health insurance that really wouldn't cover much of anything that I needed based on pre-existing conditions,” Wall said.

The Affordable Care Act currently prohibits insurance companies from denying or charging more for coverage of people with pre-existing conditions, which can include cancer, diabetes or even asthma and glaucoma. Plaintiffs in the case argue the entire ACA is unconstitutional after Congress, as part of the 2017 tax bill, removed a key part of the law penalizing individuals who had not signed up for health insurance.

If the ACA is struck down, some 600,000 Coloradans could lose access to affordable health coverage, largely because federal funding for Medicaid expansion and financial support to consumers on the individual market would go away.

Wall said she sees the court battle as part of an ongoing partisan power struggle, and said while the ACA hasn't worked for everyone and is not a perfect piece of legislation, repeal is not the answer.

"But we should be working to improve it, or working to find better solutions so that everyone can access health care, instead of just digging in heels and striving to make a point without caring who it affects or who it damages" she said.

Colorado law prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, but the law only applies to roughly one-third of insurance plans that are regulated by the state. Colorado signed on as a co-defendant in the Texas case after the Trump administration's Department of Justice declined to defend the ACA.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO