Opinion: Lawsuit to rule ACA unconstitutional will aid Georgia, U.S.

As Attorney General, I am committed to upholding the rule of law with each decision I make in order to protect the basic principles upon which our nation is founded.

It is in keeping with this commitment that I have joined a multi-state coalition challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, a terribly flawed law that has left Georgians with skyrocketing insurance premiums and dwindling access to healthcare.

Americans deserve a healthcare law that is constitutional and that delivers more access and more affordable choices. We can do both.

The U.S. Supreme Court has twice upheld the Affordable Care Act, known as the ACA, as constitutional — first in 2012 and again in 2015 – but I believe the court must take another look at this law now that Congress has eliminated its key component.

In 2012, a narrow majority of the Supreme Court said it was constitutional for the ACA to require all Americans to purchase health insurance, regardless of whether or not they wanted coverage.

In 2015, the Supreme Court again upheld the ACA’s “individual mandate” as constitutional, viewing it as a tax and saying that Congress has the authority to impose such a tax. As a nation built on the rule of law, Americans accepted the court’s ruling — some gladly, others begrudgingly.

Now fast-forward to December 2017. Congress enacted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which eliminated the ACA’s tax penalty that was the linchpin of the Supreme Court’s opinion. In other words, the tax that the court relied on to say the law was constitutional is now gone.

We are left with a decimated law that has failed to deliver the kinds of healthcare outcomes the previous administration promised it would. I echo the frustration of many Georgians who have faced increasing premiums and diminishing choices for quality care as a result of the ACA. Georgians deserve better.

But even more importantly — the ACA is no longer constitutional. In a country where the rule of law is the foundation of our government, this should matter greatly to all Americans.

I have joined with 19 other states in asking the Supreme Court to take another look at the ACA now that Congress has eliminated the law’s key component - the individual mandate. Our lawsuit is not about denying coverage to those who need it. This lawsuit is about one thing - preserving the rule of law.

We can and must pass healthcare laws that will deliver access to quality healthcare that while also staying true to our federal and state constitutions.

If the court agrees with us that the ACA is unconstitutional, Congress will have the opportunity to enact a constitutionally sound healthcare law that better serves the interests of Georgians and all Americans. State governments - which are significantly impacted by the rising costs of healthcare - and the private sector will also be able to play a role.

One way to increase coverage for those in need is through expanded use of Association Health Plans, which allow small businesses to join together to buy health insurance at a lower cost. The ACA’s strenuous rules hindered our small businesses, leaving them unable to provide quality care options to their employees. In May, our office led a coalition of 14 states in support of a new Department of Labor rule that will allow more small businesses to become eligible to participate in Association Health Plans. The rule was implemented on June 19.

I stand by my pledge to continue working with all stakeholders to see that we have healthcare options that protect the interests of all Georgians. If the Supreme Court finds the ACA unconstitutional, I know that we will all work together to ensure a world-class healthcare system that Georgians and our nation truly deserve.

Chris Carr is Georgia’s Attorney General.