Court Ruling Sparks Bipartisan Push to Preserve Health Insurance

  • Lawmakers promise coverage for pre-existing conditions
  • Federal judge ruled Dec. 14 that Obamacare is unconstitutional

Both Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress have called for taking action to protect the nation’s insurance markets from disruption after a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

The ruling has brought Obamacare back onto Congress’ agenda, even though the law remains in place, and Democrats are hoping to capitalize.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a news release that her party will move quickly in the new Congress “to uphold the life-saving protections for people with pre-existing conditions and reject Republicans’ effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act.”

House Democrats plan to hold a vote to intervene in the lawsuit early in 2019, a House Democratic aide said.

The vote could put some Republicans in the tough position of either bucking PresidentDonald Trump on the issue or supporting an unpopular attack on the health law.

Photographer: Yuri Gripas/Bloomberg

Democrats are going to paint the vote as one to support the ACA’s popular protections for people with pre-existing conditions and any opposition as an effort to take them away, a Democratic lobbyist said.

“House Dems will be seeking to make that distinction for the record once they take control,” said Yvette Fontenot, a Partner at Avenue Solutions who helped author the ACA.

Democrats have said they’ll look to affirm the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The law requires insurance plans sold on the individual marketplace to have a breadth of benefits and bars insurers from denying anyone coverage or price plans based on a beneficiary’s medical history.

Republicans too have promised to keep some of these protections enshrined in law if the ACA is brought down. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady(R-Texas) said in a statement Dec. 15 he wants to keep rules allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26 and the prohibition against lifetime limits on coverage for on insurance plans.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the next chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said on Twitter his panel will hold hearings on the health law next year, with an eye on ensuring Americans don’t lose their insurance coverage if the ACA is overturned.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) suggested the court decision in Texas probably won’t stand up on appeal.

“If the U.S. Supreme Court eventually were to agree that Obamacare is unconstitutional—which seems unlikely, however poorly the law was written—I am confident that any new federal law replacing it will continue to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions who buy health insurance,” Alexander said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ruoff in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at; Loren Duggan at