Health Care Repeal Case Could Deny Coverage for 23 Million

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[California v. Texas]
Trump administration and 18 Republican state leaders double down on their push to strip millions of their health coverage and... a pandemic that has killed nearly 120,000 Americans and infected over 2.2 million continues to sweep the nation.
Photo: YouTube

Tomorrow, the Trump administration and 18 Republican governors and attorneys general will file their opening briefs with the Supreme Court in California v. Texas—the health care repeal lawsuit.

The lawsuit, criticized across the political spectrum as a “badly flawed” case, threatens to upend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and strip 23.3 million Americans of their health coverage, according to new CAP analysis—about 3 million (15 percent) more than was forecast before the coronavirus pandemic. The anti-ACA agitators who initiated the health care repeal lawsuit, backed by the Trump administration, continue their attempts to dismantle the ACA, including its coverage expansions and consumer protections, amid the pandemic, during which comprehensive health coverage has never been more important. Millions of Americans who have lost their jobs and job-based insurance due to the current economic crisis are relying on the insurance options made possible by the ACA to keep themselves and their families covered.

Background on the health care repeal lawsuit

From the beginning, the Trump administration and allied leaders in Congress and state governments have been committed to dismantling the ACA and the consumer protections it confers by any means possible. The Trump administration has repeatedly sabotaged key provisions of the landmark law by executive actions and other more covert tactics, including removing essential consumer information from federal websites and defunding outreach and enrollment programs intended to expand coverage. After several failed attempts by President Donald Trump’s legislative allies to “repeal and replace” the ACA, Congress passed a tax bill in late 2017 that zeroed out the individual mandate penalty.

After the tax bill became law, Texas and other states filed a federal lawsuit, claiming that because the mandate had no financial penalty, it made the rest of the law unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor accepted this reasoning and held that the entire law must be struck down in what one legal expert called a “partisan, activist ruling.” On appeal, a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel also ruled in December that, following the tax bill’s change to the law, the individual mandate is unconstitutional. The panel then remanded the case back to Judge O’Connor to determine which parts of the ACA, if any, can remain given their decision. Since that ruling, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case during its upcoming term, and, for now, the ACA remains the law of the land.

ACA repeal would have disastrous consequences for the American people. In addition to the roughly 23 million people who would lose coverage, repeal would eliminate essential consumer protections, including those for people with preexisting conditions; requirements for insurers to spend premium dollars on patient care; and mandates that insurers cover prescription drugs, mental health care, and other essential health benefits.

Impact of the coronavirus pandemic on coverage

As the Trump administration and 18 Republican state leaders double down on their push to strip millions of their health coverage and encourage predatory insurance practices, a pandemic that has killed nearly 120,000 Americans and infected over 2.2 million continues to sweep the nation.

Since the impact of the coronavirus pandemic began to unfold in mid-March, more than 44 million joblessness claims have been filed as of June 11. Millions of people have lost their employer-sponsored insurance (ESI)—millions of whom will be unable to replace it and will become uninsured. Thanks to the ACA, many of these newly unemployed Americans who previously were covered by employer-sponsored insurance are able to get health coverage, either through the ACA marketplaces, possibly with financial assistance to make their coverage more affordable, or via Medicaid expansion. The Urban Institute and the Kaiser Family Foundation have estimated that tens of millions of people could lose job-based coverage due to the economic crisis sparked by the pandemic and indicate that millions of people in this situation are eligible for the ACA coverage that is threatened by the health care repeal lawsuit.

For the rest of this American Progress story log on to:https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/healthcare/news/2020/06/24/48676...

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