On December 14, Republican-appointed Judge Reed O’Connor has ruled the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional. He stated that “because rewriting the ACA without its ‘essential’ feature is beyond the power” of his court, the individual mandate was inseparable from the law and therefore must be dismantled.
While this decision sent sweeping shock waves in the healthcare landscape, it has little immediate impact. Government agencies reported that the 2019 enrollment will proceed as planned, and the law would stay in place during appeals. Yet, Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling raises concerns for millions of Americans who depend on the law for health coverage. Hospitals and provider groups are also stressed as blows to keep the ACA will affect their ability to provide access to high-quality care.