April 16, 2018
Area(s) of Interest: Health Care Reform
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, joined by 16 attorneys general, last week filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit that seeks to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Texas, imperils health care coverage for all Americans, particularly more vulnerable groups like children and people with chronic medical conditions or disabilities.
In California, millions of people receive quality, affordable health care coverage under the ACA, many for the first time. The California Medical Association (CMA) applauds Attorney General Becerra for intervening in this lawsuit to defend the ACA. To roll back the clock and risk the health of millions of Americans is irresponsible.
“We cannot afford to go back to a time when Californians with pre-existing health conditions were priced out of the market, stuck on waiting lists for care or told that they were not covered for life-saving treatments,” says CMA President Theodore M. Mazer, M.D. “We should not force the newly insured to seek care in emergency departments when their conditions have worsened and become more expensive. We stand with AG Becerra and the other states to protect affordable health care coverage and access to physicians for our most vulnerable patients.”
The Texas lawsuit seeks to stop the ACA Medicaid expansion; end tax credits that help people afford insurance; allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions; take away seniors’ prescription drug discounts; strip funding from our nation’s public health system, including work to combat the opioid epidemic; and much more. If the ACA were terminated, the state of California would stand to lose $160.2 billion in health care funding.
Texas, joined by 19 other states, filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, on February 28, 2018. The suit alleges that the ACA is no longer constitutional due to the passage of the Republican tax break bill, passed in December 2017, which eliminated the ACA individual mandate penalty payment. Although Congress recently repealed the individual mandate penalties for 2019, the ACA framework remains the law of the land. In the motion to intervene, Attorney General Becerra argues that the ACA has not been repealed by the passage of the Republican tax break bill, and its constitutionality has been upheld by the Supreme Court.
CMA supports the ACA and the expansion of health insurance coverage that it brought to more than 5.5 million Californians. The ACA’s Medi-Cal expansion now covers nearly 4 million Californians, with 1.5 million more insured under Covered California. The ACA reduced California’s uninsured from 17 percent of the population to less than 7 percent.
“Dismantling the ACA would be devastating to California’s working families,” said Dr. Mazer. “CMA encourages lawmakers to engage with physicians and other experts to improve on the gains of the ACA in order to increase patient access to care, particularly for our most vulnerable populations.”