Texas is leading a federal lawsuit against Obamacare. What does that mean for students?

Chad Lyle

The Affordable Care Act is no longer constitutional according to State Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading a lawsuit at the federal level to repeal the health care law.

Paxton, along with lawyers representing 20 other states, began trial proceedings in Fort Worth last week to do away with the health insurance law frequently referred to as “Obamacare.” If they are successful, a provision in the law allowing people to remain on their parent’s healthcare plan until they turn 26 would also be repealed. Potentially, this could result in some students losing health coverage. 

Kathleen Doviken, communications director for the University Democrats, said this could result in more students voting for Democratic candidates in future elections.

“Given the amount of students who would lose their healthcare, there would definitely be mobilization efforts among student leaders,” French senior Doviken said. “Hopefully this won’t be an issue, but I do see it mobilizing students.”

Government professor David Prindle said the lawsuit could go either way now that a mandate central to the law is no longer in place.

“When the Supreme Court said Obamacare was constitutional, they said the mandate that says everybody has to buy health insurance or pay a penalty was a tax, and a tax is constitutional, so therefore Obamacare was constitutional,” government professor David Prindle said.

When last year’s GOP tax reform act was passed, it eliminated the mandate, meaning the constitutionality of Obamacare could now be in question, Prindle said.

An estimate by the Economic Policy Institute found that approximately 2.5 million Texans could become uninsured without the Affordable Care Act. However, Saurabh Sharma, chairman of UT’s branch of the Young Conservatives of Texas, disagrees with stipulations that a lot of Texans would immediately lose coverage.

“Once (the repeal) is enacted, it wouldn’t necessarily kick students off their insurance,” Sharma, a biochemistry senior, said. “It would then be up to health insurers whether they want to continue to insure people until they are 26 or not. It’s the same deal with the individual mandate. Whenever they said repealing it would get rid of the health care of 12 million Americans, it’s not necessarily true.”

Sharma also said he believes Paxton’s argument could be successful.

“I think this lawsuit actually has a fairly good chance of at least going up through the system,” Sharma said. “The challenge with it is it’s going to take two or three years to really move. And I’m thinking by then we’ll have a resolution one way or another on which direction Obamacare is going. Either the Democrats will get back into power and find a way to reinstate the mandate … or Republicans will maintain power and chances are that they’ll whittle away at more and more of Obamacare and possibly make this lawsuit kind of null and void by the time it would reach the Supreme Court.”