Texas Fold'em

One Chance

UPDATE 5/17/21: (sigh) Never mind...again. There were several opinions announced this morning but the ACA case wasn't among them...again. The Sword of Damocles continues to dangle.

UPDATE 5/21/21: Annnnnnd the Supreme Court website now shows more decisions to be announced this Monday, May 24th...here we go again (maybe)...

UPDATE: 5/24/21: (sigh) Never mind...again. There were two opinions announced this mroning but the ACA case wasn't among them...again. The Sword of Damocles continues to dangle.

UPDATE: 5/25/21: Annnnnnnd the Supreme Court website now shows more decisions to be announced this Thursday, May 27th...

UPDATE 5/26/21: Never mind.


Millions of Americans are nervously awaiting the official ruling on the fate of the Affordable Care Act in response to the CA v. TX lawsuit (previously Texas vs. U.S. or Texas vs. Azar, though I've given it the hashtag #TexasFoldEm due to the Trump Administration's Justice Department deciding to not only throw the fight but to actively support the plaintiffs against the law of the land).

While the U.S. Supreme Court isn't expected to issue their decision until April at the earliest, it's possible that they'll publish their ruling earlier than that...potentially as soon as this Thursday morning, February 25th.

As I noted earlier today, the Big News® this today is President Biden's pending Executive Order to re-open HealthCare.Gov to a full 3-month COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period starting on February 15th. There's a whole bunch of other important stuff in today's healthcare XO, but some of them will take months to actually finalize and implement.

Frankly, re-opening HC.gov is actually one of the simplest and most obvious healthcare-related executive orders Biden could give at the moment. Now that the starting/ending dates are known, it raises one other important question.

UPDATE 4/03/21: I've confirmed with a highly-trusted source that this isn't happening...at least not before the Supreme Court issues their ruling, anyway.

As noted below (scroll all the way down), it appears that a $1.00 penalty would be too small to make the reconciliation cut, which means the only way to #MootTheSuit via reconciliation would be to change the mandate back to an amount large enough to have a significant impact on the budget...which presumably means several hundred dollars.

I mean, if they're gonna do that, they might as well just restore it to the original $695/2.5% of income while they're at it.

If you visit several of the state-based ACA exchange websites right now, you might notice a pattern:

Connect for Health Colorado (blog entry):

Staying Focused

It’s still 2020, so it only seems appropriate that we all have a lot on our plates. Despite the Texas v. California court case causing some news as it went before the Supreme Court this week, we continue to stay focused on our current Open Enrollment Period.

It is of note this year that individuals making up to $51,040 per year or a household of four making up to $104,800 annually may be eligible for financial help to lower their monthly premiums, healthcare discounts, or both. Nearly three quarters of all Connect for Health Colorado enrollments are financially assisted.

And, since plans and prices change every year, you can point people to our Quick Cost and Plan Finder Tool to see their options.

So, the idiotic, asinine and otherwise absurd GOP-brought, Trump-supported lawsuit to strike down the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act finally had its (presumably final) day in court today...the United States Supreme Court, that is.

Here's my live-tweeting of the proceedings. I missed the first ten minutes of it and didn't tweet out everything, but this captures most of the Q&A.

Defending the ACA were California Solicitor General Michael Mongan and Donald Verrilli, who is the former U.S. Solicitor General, and who was working on behalf of the House Democrats, I believe. For the plaintiffs, you had the Texas Solicitor General, Kyle Hawkins and Acting U.S. Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall (note the "acting" descriptor...Trump has tons of unconfirmed appointees...)

Remember, there are three main questions for the SCOTUS to consider about the lawsuit:

Last night I threw together my very first online ACA seminar for about 40 people (plus an unknown number of Facebook Live viewers, assuming I set that up correctly). It runs about two hours; the first half was pretty much an updated version of my normal "3-Legged Stool" explainer.

For the second half, however, I was joined by University of Michigan law professor & ACA expert Nicholas Bagley who helped explain the intricacies of the absurd CA v. TX lawsuit to strike down the entire Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (aka "TX v. Azar", "Tx. v. U.S." or, as I prefer to call it, "Texas Fold'em".

If you have two hours to kill, you can watch the whole thing here! If you want to skip past the ACA 101 stuff and go straight to Bagley & I discussing the lawsuit ahead of this morning's Supreme Court oral arguments, that starts at around the 70 minute mark.

(updated w/latest election results)

In January 2021, the U.S. Senate will have at least 48 Democrats (including 2 Senators who caucus with the Dems) and at least 50 Republicans.

The last two seats are both in Georgia. Elected GOP Senator David Perdue was up for re-election against Democrat Jon Ossoff and a Libertarian candidate, while appointed GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler was running for the first time in a "jungle primary" against another Republican and several Democrats in a special election.

Under Georgia state law, if no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote (plus 1) in the November election, the top two finishers go on to a runoff election on January 5th.

Since no candidates in the special election came close to 50%, it will go to a runoff between Loeffler and top Democratic finisher Rev. Raphael Warnock...and the regular Senate race will also going to go to a runoff between Perdue and Ossoff, as Perdue has fallen below the 50% threshold.

9:22am Nov. 6th: See updates at end


There's still millions of ballots left to count, and no doubt some legal battles gearing up, but as of 11:00am on November 4th, the most likely scenario going into 2021 will be:

  • Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
  • Democrats will continue to control the U.S. House of Representatives, albeit with a smaller margin than they have today.
  • Republicans will continue to control the U.S. Senate, albeit with a smaller margin than today (either 52-48 or possilbly 51-49 depending on an upcoming runoff election in Georgia).

The Texas Fold'em lawsuit (official name: CA v. TX, formerly TX v. Azar) is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court (6-3 conservative) just 6 days from today, on November 10th.

Keep in mind, however, that while the hearing will happen next week, their actual decision isn't expected to be announced until next spring...most likely between April and June.

One Chance

Five weeks ago, right after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, I once again wrote about the different options available to Democrats to save the ACA from a potentially disastrous SCOTUS ruling next spring...each of which would require them holding a trifecta in the House, the Senate and of course the Presidency:

  • 1. Pass a simple bill changing the federal mandate penalty to an amount higher than $0.00.
  • 2. Pass a simple bill clarifying that the mandate is separate from the rest of the ACA.
  • 3. Pass a simple bill striking out the underlying mandate language itself.

As I understand it, two of these would also require the newly-Dem controlled Senate to also kill the filibuster (or to somehow convince enough Republicans to agree to hit the 60-vote threshold), while the third (raising the penalty back over $0.00) could be done with just 50 votes (+ VP Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker) via the reconciliation process...which itself gets messy.