ATTORNEY GENERAL TONG CONTINUES FIGHT TO PROTECT THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT, JOINS COALITION OF 21 ATTORNEYS GENERAL CHALLENGING BASELESS ATTACKS ON AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong joined a coalition 20 states and the District of Columbia led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in filing a response in Texas v. U.S., defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the healthcare of tens of millions of Americans. Today’s brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, argues that every provision of the ACA remains valid. It further argues that the position taken by the Trump Administration and the Texas-led coalition is legally incorrect and dangerous to our healthcare system.
"The Trump Administration's dangerous effort to dismantle American healthcare must be stopped. Connecticut stands with our partner states across the nation in defense of the tens of millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions, young adults, seniors, working families and low-income individuals whose healthcare has been imperiled by this politically-motivated hit-job," said Attorney General William Tong.
The plaintiffs, two individuals and 18 States led by Texas, filed this lawsuit in February 2018, challenging one provision of the Affordable Care Act—the requirement that individuals maintain health insurance or pay a tax. Texas’s lawsuit came after Congress reduced that tax to zero dollars in December 2017. Opponents of the ACA had attempted and failed to repeal the ACA over 70 times since its enactment. The plaintiffs argued that this reduction in the tax made the minimum coverage provision unconstitutional. They further argued that this provision could not be “severed” from the rest of the ACA, meaning that the entire Act must be struck down. In the district court, the Trump Administration agreed with the plaintiffs that the minimum coverage provision, as amended, was unconstitutional, and further argued that it could not be severed from two of the ACA’s important provisions—the community-rating and guaranteed-issue reforms. Then, in March, the Trump Administration signaled that it would change course and argue that the entire ACA is now invalid. The Trump Administration filed its brief in support of its new position on May 1, 2019, alongside a brief filed by the Texas-led coalition and the two individual plaintiffs.
Today’s filing responds to these arguments by the Trump Administration and the plaintiffs, and continues the legal defense of the ACA, the backbone of our national healthcare system. In their brief, the Attorneys General argue that none of the plaintiffs have standing to challenge the individual mandate provision, because the individual plaintiffs are not injured by a provision that now offers a lawful choice between buying insurance and paying a zero-dollar tax. The Attorneys General further argue that the individual mandate remains constitutional, and is similar to many other laws that Congress has adopted. The brief further argues that, even if the individual mandate is unconstitutional, it can be severed from the rest of the ACA because Congress clearly wanted to preserve every provision of the Affordable Care Act when it reduced the tax amount to zero.
Moreover, as the Attorneys General explained in their opening brief, if this challenge to the ACA is upheld, it would wreak havoc on the entire American healthcare system and risk lives in every state. If affirmed, the District Court’s decision would affect nearly every American, including:
• 133 million Americans, including 17 million kids, with pre-existing health conditions, who would no longer be guaranteed coverage under federal law.
• Young adults under 26 years of age, who would no longer be guaranteed coverage under a parent’s health plan.
• More than 12 million Americans who received coverage that would now be lost through Medicaid expansion.
• 12 million seniors who receive a Medicare benefit that would be taken away in order to afford prescription drugs.
• Working families who rely on tax credits and employer-sponsored plans to afford insurance.
An electronic copy of the opening brief can be found here.