After Texas federal judge Reed O’Connor ruled the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was unconstitutional on Friday, the stocks of insurance companies and hospitals plunged.
The Dec. 14th decision contended that after President Donald Trump struck down the individual mandate, or the health insurance requirement, ACA could no longer be seen as a tax and therefore, “can no longer be fairly read as an exercise of Congress’s tax power and is still impermissible under the interstate commerce clause. In other words, the ruling added, “the individual mandate is unconstitutional.”
Because this ruling strikes the very heart of ACA as a law, it dismantles any argument in favor of upholding it as passed under President Barack Obama. As such, insurance companies lose the privilege of being bailed out by the federal government if not enough people sign up for their plans.
Large hospitals and medical centers also lose some patients as a great number of people who would be seeking their services thanks to subsidized health insurance will no longer flood to their gates. Without the artificial incentives in place under ACA, the industry doesn’t seem as profitable. And due to this reality, stocks lost value.
HCA Healthcare, the largest for-profit U.S. hospital operator, saw its shares fall 2.9 percent Monday, while health insurance company Cigna’s shares dropped 3.3 percent. Centene, Tenet Healthcare, and Molina Healthcare shares all dropped between 4.7 and 8.9 percent.
But supporters of ACA believe the decision will be overturned if appealed. And some are even encouraging people to buy health-care stocks now before their values shoot up once it happens. Even Medicare and Medicaid officials seem to be putting little faith in the Friday ruling, as a spokesperson told reporters the court decision has not impacted the exchanges whatsoever, and that open enrollment continues as planned. “There is no impact to current coverage or coverage in a 2019 plan,” the spokesperson said.
It’s almost as if they didn’t really care about actually boosting access to care.
The Politicization Of Health
Needless to say, nobody is looking at ACA as what it is: a government-sanctioned game created so that Washington-backed monopolies always win. Instead, everyone sees ACA for what they choose to make of it: a policy that makes people healthier. Whether it’s backed on facts or not.
But when you take political preferences out of the discussion, Obamacare is exposed as what it truly is: nothing but a set of rules driving the cost of care up.
Unfortunately, politics get in the way of the truth. And when it comes to government policy, that is a serious problem as it impacts plenty of people.