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Attorney General William Tong

11/10/2020

Attorney General Tong Issues Statement Defending the Affordable Care Act Ahead of Oral Arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court

(Hartford, CT) — Attorney General William Tong today issued a statement on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ahead of tomorrow’s oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court in the healthcare repeal case, California v. Texas.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s Office is leading a coalition of 20 states and the District of Columbia in defense of the ACA, including the law’s protections for people with preexisting conditions, public health investments, and Medicaid expansion, among others. In the midst of rising COVID-19 cases and deaths nationwide, the Trump Administration and the Texas-led state coalition are risking the healthcare of millions of Americans and financial support for states. Earlier this year, AG Tong joined those states in filing an amicus brief, arguing that Congress’ reduction of the tax on individuals who chose not to buy health insurance should not invalidate the remaining provisions of the ACA.

“Make no mistake, our entire healthcare system hangs in the balance,” said Attorney General Tong. “The stakes could not be higher and we’re fighting tomorrow on behalf of cancer survivors, young adults, pregnant women, people with diabetes, the LGBTQ community and hundreds of thousands more in Connecticut whose healthcare is under attack. The Trump Administration’s attempt to dismantle our healthcare system is unconscionable, especially during a global pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 Americans. We are fighting this to protect the healthcare of millions of Americans.”

“Losing the ACA could be tremendously disruptive to the health of many of our residents. The existing inequities in our health care system exposed by COVID will only get wider. Without subsidies, many may not be able to afford health insurance, and without the protections afforded by the ACA, many may not be able to get it,” said Connecticut Insurance Department Commissioner Andrew N. Mais. “If this pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we’re all in this together and my health is dependent on yours. FDR said one of the benefits of democracy is ‘adequate health care.’ It would be a sad betrayal of our democracy and our citizenry to take this away when we need it most.”

“Particularly in the middle of a public health crisis and with COVID-19 cases at an all-time high, this lawsuit poses an immediate threat to the lives, health and wellbeing of people across the country,” said American Medical Association President Susan R. Bailey, M.D. “As we explained in our amicus brief to the Court, this lawsuit threatens to strip 20 million Americans of health insurance coverage and end numerous patient protections that enjoy broad, bipartisan support and have improved the lives of patients. Congress passed the ACA to improve the health of our nation, and we urge the court to reject this attempt to diminish its protections.”

"It cannot be overstated how devastating the consequences of abolishing the Affordable Care Act would be,” said Frederick Isasi, Executive Director of Families USA. “Because of the reforms the ACA enacted, over 20 million people have gained access to health and health care through Medicaid and the marketplace. With record numbers of people losing employer-sponsored health insurance during this pandemic, it is especially important that they have access to those options. Many millions more get vaccines and preventive care, and 135 million people with pre-existing conditions have necessary protections thanks to the ACA. Those protections are vital now more than ever, as 9.4 million people have been infected with COVID-19, which could be considered a pre-existing condition. They could be denied coverage, charged more, or denied crucial benefits without the ACA’s protections."

"The Affordable Care Act was a big win for kids, opening doors to health coverage for millions of families across the country. From coverage for pre-existing conditions and for former foster youth, to well-child visits at no cost, to reduced maternal and infant mortality rates, children’s lives have drastically improved because of the ACA and would suffer if the law were dismantled," said Mayra E. Alvarez, President of The Children's Partnership. "It is never the time to take away the health coverage of millions of children and families, but during the COVID-19 pandemic would be particularly heartless."

“Striking down the ACA would be devastating to Medicare and the older adults and people with disabilities who rely on it,” said Alice Bers, Litigation Director at the Center for Medicare Advocacy. “The ACA provides Medicare beneficiaries with critical protections, including savings on prescription drugs, free preventive care, and protection from discrimination. Losing the ACA would also damage Medicare’s financial stability, putting the promise of Medicare for future beneficiaries in danger.”

“Striking down the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the midst of this public health and economic crisis would cause grave harm,” said Robert Greenstein, President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “An estimated 21 million people would lose coverage, worsening access to care, financial security, racial disparities and health outcomes. It would also impede efforts to address the public health crisis. And eliminating the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions would make it harder for the tens of millions of people with pre-existing conditions to get comprehensive coverage, including the millions of people who’ve had COVID.”

“Legal scholars agree that sound legal principles require the Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act in its entirety,” said William B. Schultz, former general counsel for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “The ruling sought by Texas and other states would have a devastating impact on the delivery of healthcare in the United States and undermine the ability of hospitals to deliver high quality services at a time when hospitals are under enormous stress due to the coronavirus pandemic,”

“The U.S. Supreme Court should not invalidate the Affordable Care Act,” said Scott P. Serota, CEO and president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. “To do so would strip vital protections from consumers no matter where they get their health insurance coverage – through an employer, Medicare and Medicaid, or the individual marketplaces that were created under the law. The ACA is particularly critical now for millions of the newly unemployed and their families, ensuring they still have access to quality and affordable health insurance coverage during a severe public health crisis.”

“Among other things, the ACA contained a provision creating the regulatory pathway for the FDA to approve biosimilars, more affordable alternatives to biologic medicines. That pathway was urgently needed because biologics account for approximately 40% of all prescription drug spending," said Jeffrey K. Francer, Senior Vice President & General Counsel of the Association for Accessible Medicines. “Collectively, biosimilars are expected to deliver at least $54 billion in savings to patients and taxpayers by 2027. Invalidating the biosimilars regulatory pathway would risk this enormous savings and further set the United States behind other countries in our ability to lower prescription drug prices.”

“The far reaching provisions of the Affordable Care Act give people with disabilities an equal opportunity to buy and keep good private health insurance, and incentivize the provision of community-based services rather than institutional care revealed by the pandemic to be deadly,” said Silvia Yee, Senior Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. “The Supreme Court will be looking not only at the severability of the law but of disabled lives.”

"Young adults have seen the greatest gains of any age group thanks to the ACA,” said Erin Hemlin, Health Policy and Advocacy Director, Young Invincibles. “The uninsured rate has been cut in half, from 30 percent to 15 percent, and millions have gained access to critical benefits like maternity care and mental health care. The ACA not only provides life-saving health coverage, it also provides financial security to millions more young people who are beginning their independent lives and need the peace of mind that health coverage can provide during such uncertain times. The ACA is a lifeline that touches nearly every American; to strike it down would cause unthinkable harm. We urge the Supreme Court to recognize this damage and keep the law intact."

"The stakes in this case could not be higher for people with disabilities,” said Jennifer Mathis, Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy at Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. “Millions of people stand to lose their health care if the Supreme Court dismantles the Affordable Care Act, and for many people with disabilities, this is a life and death matter.”

“As the small business community continues to navigate and fully assess the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must remember that the ACA is vital for entrepreneurs and their employees because it addresses two important issues: healthcare affordability and access," said John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority. "Indeed, more than 5.7 million small business employees or self-employed workers are enrolled in the ACA marketplaces, and more than half of all ACA marketplace enrollees nationwide are entrepreneurs or small business employees. We strongly urge the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the ACA in full as it is a necessity for the success of our small business community and our economy.”

Every American could be affected if the ACA is destroyed. In particular, the following is at stake:

Healthcare for the 20 million Americans who are able to afford insurance either through Medicaid expansion or thanks to tax credits and employer-sponsored plans through healthcare exchanges.
Guaranteed coverage for the 133 million Americans who have a pre-existing health condition, including 17 million kids, and benefit from the law’s protection against discrimination and higher costs based on health status.
Healthcare for young adults under the age of 26 covered by a parent’s plan.
Families of children with chronic health conditions who are currently protected from lifetime insurance limits.
Funding for our nation’s public health system, including investments in local and state public health systems that help during the pandemic, FDA biosimilars which power drug costs, and more including Medicare payment reforms, Indian Health Services, and work to fight the opioid epidemic.

Background:

In 2018, a Texas-led coalition, supported by the Trump Administration, filed Texas v. U.S., arguing that Congress rendered the ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional when it reduced the penalty for failing to buy health insurance to $0 and that the rest of the ACA should be held invalid as a result of that change. The California-led coalition defended the ACA in its entirety. The Fifth Circuit held that the individual mandate is unconstitutional but declined to further rule on the validity of the ACA’s remaining provisions. The court instead sent the case back to the Northern District of Texas to determine which provisions of the 900-page law are still valid.

In January, Attorney General Tong joined the coalition in filing a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the Fifth Circuit’s decision. The Supreme Court granted review of California v. Texas in March.

Attorneys General Tong and Becerra are joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, 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.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments remotely on Tuesday, November 10, 2020, at 10 a.m. ET.

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