NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A federal judge in Texas ruled the Affordable Care Act’s individual coverage mandate unconstitutional Friday (Dec. 14), one day before the 2018 deadline to sign up for healthcare under open enrollment. While the decision has garnered attention across the country, a local expert says it will have no impact on enrollees and may not make any difference at all for quite some time.
“It was a big ruling," President Trump said. “It was a great ruling for our country.”
Walter Lane, a professor and chairman of the Department of Economics and Finance at the University of New Orleans, called the decision “huge,” but explained it is not as conclusive as some may think.
“His ruling was that because you can’t have an insurance that gets rid of pre-existing conditions unless you have an individual mandate," Lane said. "Otherwise, people would not buy any insurance until they got sick, then they go out and buy insurance. But an insurance market can’t operate that way. It’s kind of like if you had auto insurance and you could call up for insurance after you were in an accident.”
Lane said the only way insurance works is if healthy people buy into it, too.
As Louisanans sign up for health coverage, they should know Friday’s ruling does not undo the Obamacare, which Lane said, would cause "chaos.”
“If they get rid of the law, the people who are most worried, the people who have pre-existing conditions, got insurance under Obamacare, could lose it," Lane said.
Unless the Supreme Court also rules against the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, the law won’t change, according to Lane, who says the ruling is likely to be appealed.
“Nothing is going to change, almost guaranteed, for at least a year,” Lane said.
Yet, with this judge’s decision, Trump is again calling for the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.
“We’ll be able to get great healthcare. We’ll sit down with Democrats when the Supreme Court upholds,” Trump said.
But, there will almost certainly be a lot of butting heads if and when Congress looks at potential alternatives to the program.
“We’ve seen every time they’ve tried to do something like that, there’s been no consensus about how to go about replacing it with anything,” Lane said. “Trying to get anything now is just inconceivable. They can’t even get the Republicans to agree on a plan of what they want to do.”