Attorney General Shapiro Files Amicus Brief Defending Affordable Care Act for Pennsylvanians

May 14, 2020 | Topic: Consumers

If law is struck down, number of uninsured in Pennsylvania would double

HARRISBURG—Attorney General Shapiro filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending the Affordable Care Act from Republican attacks to end the Obama health care law. The Trump Administration and a group of states led by Texas are continuing a legal push started by Republicans to repeal the entire ACA without a replacement during the current health crisis. In 2018, a District Court Judge in Texas attempted to strike down the entire law, and now the case is before the Supreme Court.

“Americans have a right to accessible healthcare—that’s the law of the land,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “My office was just before the Supreme Court defending women’s right to contraceptive healthcare under the ACA and we will continue to fight for all Americans’ access to affordable, quality healthcare. I won’t let this Administration destroy the ACA benefits that are guaranteed under law.”

“Even before the arrival of the Nation’s worst health crisis in over a century, preservation of the ACA’s various invaluable forms of support, incentives, and safeguards had become crucial, not only for [Pennsylvania], but for every State in the Union,” said the Attorneys General in their brief. “Now as the States and our residents face the COVID-19 threat, losing the ACA has become unthinkable…The access to healthcare that these reforms ensure is vital to the States in this time of global pandemic. Given the challenges we face, the complexity of the healthcare markets, and the fragility of our state fiscal conditions, invalidating these provisions would be catastrophic for the States and our citizens.”

Before passage of the ACA, almost 50,000,000 Americans – over 17 percent of the population – lacked health insurance.  Health insurance reforms under the ACA have resulted in millions of people accessing coverage for the first time in their lives.  Prior to the ACA, 10% of Pennsylvanians were uninsured. The ACA has cut that number roughly in half to a historic low of 5.5% uninsured as of 2017. Currently more than 1,000,000 Pennsylvanians are insured because of the ACA — 331,825 through commercial ACA plans purchased on the exchange as well as over 720,000 enrolled through the Medicaid expansion.

Later this year, the Commonwealth will open its own insurance exchange under the ACA and anticipates implementing a reinsurance program that will allow it to keep insurance premiums low for the 2021 plan year — crucial tools at a time when the current health crisis threatens to drive up health insurance premiums throughout the country.  If the ACA were invalidated, the resulting chaos would harm the health care markets, state government budgets, and the health of residents in every state, all amidst a global pandemic.  In the 10 years since the passage of the ACA, the states have experienced dramatic improvements in health care coverage and outcomes. All states and their residents have benefitted from the ACA’s improvements, including:

  • providing important consumer protections prohibiting insurers from denying health insurance to the 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions;
  • expanding and improving Medicaid to now include more than 12 million Americans; and,
  • making the individual insurance market accessible and affordable by providing refundable tax credits.

As the nation’s economy and health will take years to recover from the impact of COVID-19, the brief also argues that all states, including the respondent states, are relying upon the ACA in their fight against COVID-19, and the increased access to health insurance afforded by the ACA will be crucial as people lose income and employer-sponsored health care, and pre-existing conditions caused by the coronavirus become more prevalent.

In addition to Pennsylvania, the brief was also joined by the Attorneys General of Maine, New Hampshire, Maryland, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.

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