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DHSS Sec. Walker: Delawareans could lose popular insurance protections if ACA is invalidated

Department of Health and Human Services

President Donald Trump’s administration is signaling it intends to try to replace the Affordable Care Act in the lead up to the 2020 election.

The Trump administration recently shifted its legal position on the Affordable Care Act. It’s now asking the courts to declare the entire ACA law unconstitutional because Congress stripped out the individual mandate starting this year.

A Texas judge ruled the ACA is unconstitutional last December. Delaware is one of the states appealing that ruling.

Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Kara Odom Walker said doing away with the ACA will also impact people with private health insurance. It protects coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allows young adults to stay on their parent’s insurance until age 26.

“Being able to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26 has been a huge part of the ACA’s progress in decreasing the number of people who don’t choose to purchase health insurance,” she said.

The case is currently before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, fewer Delawareans signed up for Affordable Care Act insurance plans this year.

Walker said Congress eliminating the individual mandate and the Trump administration slashing the advertising budget for the open enrollment period may have played a role. 

“We’re obviously worried about losing people off of the individual market because it can make prices go up as more and more of the healthy people make other choices, either to be uninsured or concentrate those who really need insurance to stay in,” she said.

More than 22,500 signed up through the state’s ACA marketplace in 2019, a drop of 8 percent compared with last year. About 500 fewer new consumers signed up for coverage.

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