Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition of 20 States and the District of Columbia Defending the ACA in U.S. Supreme Court

Wednesday, May 6, 2020
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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, leading a coalition of 20 states and D.C., today filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against efforts by the Trump Administration and the state of Texas to repeal the entire ACA, putting the healthcare of tens of millions of Americans at risk. The Court agreed to review a recent Fifth Circuit decision that held the ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional and called into question whether the remaining provisions of the law could still stand—jeopardizing Medicaid expansion, critical public health programs that help fight COVID-19, and subsidies that help working families access care, among countless others. Critically, this decision threatens healthcare coverage protections for 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, and would allow health insurance companies to deny individuals care or charge more based on their health status.

“It’s unconscionable that the Trump Administration continues its attack on healthcare, just when many Americans across the country need it most. A global pandemic is the time to wake up and protect the lives of our loved ones, yet all we see from the President's team is repeal without replace,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The ACA is the backbone of our healthcare system, making doctor’s visits and care possible for millions of people, while providing critical public health funds for our communities to fight infectious diseases like the coronavirus. Under this hallmark law, more than 133 million people have been guaranteed healthcare protections, who could have been denied coverage entirely pre-ACA. We can’t afford to return to those days, so we’re marching forward at the Supreme Court determined to save the ACA and American lives."

The lawsuit, originally filed by a Texas-led coalition, and later supported by the Trump Administration, argued that Congress rendered the ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional when it reduced the penalty for forgoing coverage to $0. They further argued that the rest of the ACA should be held invalid as a result of that change. California’s coalition defended the ACA in its entirety, supported by a bipartisan group of amici including scholars, economists, public health experts, hospital and provider associations, patient groups, counties, cities, and more. While the Fifth Circuit held that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, it sidestepped the further question as to the validity of the ACA’s remaining provisions. Attorney General Becerra’s coalition petitioned the Supreme Court for review in order to protect Americans’ healthcare and resolve the uncertainty created by the Fifth Circuit decision.

In today’s filing, California’s coalition makes clear that patients, doctors, hospitals, employers, workers, states, pharmaceutical companies and more will be negatively impacted if the ACA should fall. It also highlights important advancements in healthcare access made under the ACA, including:

  • More than 12 million Americans receiving coverage through Medicaid expansion;
  • Nearly 9 million individuals nationwide receiving tax credits to help afford health insurance coverage through individual marketplaces;
  • Millions of working families relying on high-quality, employer-sponsored insurance plans; 
  • Important protections prohibiting insurers from denying health insurance to the 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions (like diabetes, cancer, or pregnancy) or from charging individuals higher premiums because of their health status; 
  • Improved payment reforms and increased access to Medicare for seniors and people disabilities; and
  • Nearly $1.3 trillion in federal funding being dedicated to keeping Americans healthy and covered, including Medicaid expansion and public health dollars.

Joining Attorney General Becerra in defending the ACA are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota (by and through its Department of Commerce), Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the Governor of Kentucky.

A copy of the brief is available here

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