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Latest Threat to ACA Strengthens Our Resolve to Protect Health Care

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The latest threat to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in the form of a ruling this week from a federal appellate court, will provide renewed inspiration to our union and allies to continue to fight for affordable health care for all.

In the words of AFSCME President Lee Saunders, who issued a statement in the wake of the court’s Wednesday ruling, “Health care is a right, not a privilege, and AFSCME will not stop fighting for increased access and quality health care for all Americans.”

Saunders also said that Americans “cannot afford to revert to past injustices of lifetime caps and discrimination that especially harm women, older Americans and people with preexisting conditions.”

The ruling, issued by a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, struck down a key portion of the landmark law – the so-called individual mandate, or the requirement that Americans must carry health insurance or pay a penalty.

But, unlike a lower-court judge, the appellate court did not rule that the entire law is unconstitutional. Instead, the appellate court sent the case back to the same lower-court judge who handled the case and asked him to determine which other parts of the ACA, if any, must be ruled unconstitutional as well.

This means President Donald Trump and his allies are still threatening to take away the health care of millions of Americans nearly a decade after the  passage of the ACA.

Their continued attack on the ACA spells uncertainty for millions of Americans, including the approximately 17 million who have gained health insurance coverage through the law, not to mention the more than 50 million people with pre-existing medical conditions who would lose coverage if the ACA is scrapped.  

The American people know who is on their side and who keeps trying to take away their health care. Just because the fate of the law remains in limbo doesn’t mean that Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and every other lawmaker who has tried to repeal the ACA since 2017 is off the hook.