Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton never met a piece of the Affordable Care Act he wasn't going to doggedly try to take off the books. The latest example, promoted Tuesday by Paxton's office, is an attempt by Texas and seven other states to permanently block federal regulations protecting the trans community and abortion-seeking women.
In 2016, the last year of President Barack Obama's administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services implemented new regulations defining sex discrimination as it relates to the ACA to include refusing to provide insurance coverage or refusing to provide medical treatment to transgender individuals or women who'd decided to seek an abortion.
Almost immediately after the department put the regulations on the books, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor issued an injunction prohibiting their enforcement across the United States. O'Connor is the same judge cherry-picked by Paxton to hear his lawsuit against the entire ACA. O'Connor's ruling in that lawsuit, that the entire law is unconstitutional, is on hold pending what is sure to be a lengthy series of appeals.
After O'Connor stopped the regulations from going into effect, the Obama administration denounced the ruling, saying that it struck a blow against health care equality.
“Today’s decision is a setback, but hopefully a temporary one, since all Americans — regardless of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation — should have access to quality, affordable health care free from discrimination,” Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill said, according to Reuters.
Despite the minority protections not being in effect, Paxton wants the regulations killed immediately, he said Tuesday.
“This was the Obama administration’s attempt to rewrite law without congressional authority and to trample on the states’ authority to provide set rules for the medical profession,” Paxton said. “The federal government has no right to force Texans to pay for surgical procedures intended to change a person’s sex. Our multi-state coalition is asking the U.S. District Court to issue a summary judgment to protect medical professionals who believe that engaging in such procedures or treatment violates their Hippocratic oath, their conscience or their personal religious beliefs, which are protected by the Constitution and federal law.”
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Paxton fears that Texas will be out billions of dollars if the regulations ever go into effect, because states that don't comply would lose federal funding guaranteed by Obamacare.
"Those who stand to lose the most are the nation’s most vulnerable citizens who participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs," he said, or threatened, depending on your point of view.
The attorney general's fight against the Affordable Care Act threatens the 1.6 million Texans who buy their health insurance on their own through the federal government's marketplace. Without the ACA, insurers could deny those attempting to purchase coverage for having a pre-existing medical condition.