When a Texas judge ruled the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was unconstitutional last week, the ruling was not unexpected, but the sheer sweep of the decision was. That ruling — backed by the governors of 20 states — has two significant hurdles to clear before it can take effect. One is the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals; the other is the Supreme Court, on which five of the justices who’ve twice before affirmed the ACA as law still sit.
In the meantime, Santa Barbara’s congressmember, Salud Carbajal — who has campaigned in favor of the ACA — pledged to fight to uphold the bill. “This administration has sought to undermine the ACA at every turn,” he said, “and has worked diligently to make care more expensive for thousands of families on the Central Coast.” As of March 2018, Santa Barbara County had 16,410 individuals signed up for insurance through Covered California, the statewide portal for the ACA. Of those, 15,060 received federal subsidies to help them make their insurance payments. California’s Attorney General Xavier
Becerra — one of Carbajal’s political mentors — has vowed to fight through the courts on behalf of the ACA.
Bob Freeman, CEO for CenCal Health, the largest public insurance entity on the Central Coast, declined to discuss the ramifications of repeal, which, among other things, would remove protections for people with preexisting conditions. “My first thought would be not to panic or otherwise get ahead of ourselves,” he stated. Currently, Blue Shield is the only insurance provider selling ACA policies in Santa Barbara County.