U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined Senate Democrats to urge U.S. Attorney General William Barr to rescind the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) support of the Supreme Court lawsuit that seeks to strike down the Affordable Care Act (ACA). President Trump and Senate Republicans have made repeated efforts to invalidate the ACA and gut protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, including rushing the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett ahead of the November 10th hearing of California v. Texas. The lawsuit — which asks the Supreme Court to declare the ACA unconstitutional and invalidate the law in its entirety — would strip health care from more than eight million New Yorkers with pre-existing conditions and jeopardize access to care for the millions of Americans suffering from the recently reported long term health effects of COVID-19. Additionally, overturning the landmark legislation would devastate communities of color who experienced significant coverage gains under the ACA’s Medicaid expansions and protections for pre-existing conditions.
“Striking down the ACA would have devastating consequences for New Yorkers who rely on the law’s guaranteed access to quality, affordable health care, especially in the midst of a pandemic,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Rather than working to deliver a COVID relief package, Republicans rushed to confirm Judge Barrett with the expectation that she would support their efforts in the Supreme Court to strike down the ACA. It’s unconscionable for the DOJ to pursue this cruel attempt to rip quality affordable health care from tens of millions of Americans. I’m urging the administration to rescind its support immediately and instead focus on delivering economic relief to families in need.”
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in California v. Texas on November 10, 2020. Among critical provisions, the ACA has made it illegal for insurance companies to deny insurance coverage for the 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. Before the ACA became law, insurers could exclude coverage of care associated with pre-existing conditions; charge higher health premiums based on a person’s health status or gender; limit certain benefits like mental health treatment, prescription drugs, or maternity care associated with pre-existing conditions; and impose lifetime or annual caps on benefits.
Because of the pandemic, uninsured rates could spiral even further if the ACA’s preexisting conditions protections are overturned. A recent report from the Wall Street Journal details the long term health effects of COVID-19, even in young patients and individuals that did not require hospitalization during their initial diagnosis. Health experts have warned that, without the ACA, health insurers could classify COVID-19 as a pre-existing condition and deny COVID-19 survivors health insurance. As a result, many long term COVID-19 patients would be unable to access care for emerging complications including severe fatigue, cognitive issues and memory lapses, digestive problems, erratic heart rates, headaches, dizziness, and fluctuating blood pressure.
Full text of the letter can be found here.