By Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson
The latest attack on vulnerable Americans who need assistance to ensure that they, and their families, have adequate and affordable health insurance comes not from the United States Congress, where the law providing such insurance was challenged more than sixty times by the Republican Party.
This time it comes from a federal judge in North Texas who ruled recently that the law was unconstitutional. Fortunately, the judge’s ruling will be appealed to a higher court where I hope and pray more prudent thinking will prevail. If the judge’s ruling stands, more than 20 million men, women and children will find themselves without health insurance, which should be considered a fundamental right in our country.
As soon as I received notice of the judge’s ruling, I was in contact with my colleagues in Washington, members of the Democratic Party, who will make up the majority in the House of Representatives that will be seated during the first week of January.
One of the reasons that our party experienced such an overwhelming victory in the November congressional elections is we made healthcare a major issue, telling voters that we would protect the Affordable Care Act, and make Improvements to it.
The local judge’s ruling comes in the face of a decision by the United States Supreme Court that the law, signed by President Obama in 2010, was constitutional and national polls showing that the favorability of the Affordable Care Act continues to rise. Even Republicans legislators promised voters that they supported the law during the election.
A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation concluded that more than 70 percent of Americans, Democrats and Republicans, have a favorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act, demonstrating that the legislation had become a significant part of the American fabric. The Affordable Care Act also allows for Medicaid expansion, providing additional people with healthcare.
The holiday season can be a very stressful time for everyone. Those secure with the knowledge of having healthcare because of the Affordable Care Act do not deserve the extra worry that the judge’s ruling has created.
I want each of you to know that my colleagues and I are with you, and we will do everything in our power to protect your healthcare. We are consulting with some of the best legal minds in the country who will argue in the next judicial forum or forums on your behalf, and on behalf of equity and fairness. Having you and those you love without healthcare insurance is like leaving a newly-born infant alone in the midst of a harsh winter storm. We will not allow that. We shall assist you. We shall protect you from the cold!
This article originally appeared in the Dallas Post Tribune.