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In a previous Alert, we highlighted a lawsuit against the federal government by State Attorney’s General in twenty states led by Texas. At the center of the lawsuit is the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate penalty, which was repealed by Congress in last year’s tax bill. The lawsuit claims that the ACA is null and void because it doesn’t have the force of the individual mandate penalty. If successful, this lawsuit would sabotage the ACA, destabilize our health care system, and deny millions of consumer’s critical health coverage. People with pre-existing conditions and those who are older and sicker would be hit the hardest.  

To make matters worse, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) sided with the states and will not be defending the ACA against the lawsuit. In fact, DOJ takes it a step further and argues against provisions of the ACA that guarantee coverage to people who are older, sicker, or have pre-existing conditions. Politico reports that a DOJ memo argues "This Court should hold that the ACA’s individual mandate will be unconstitutional as of January 1, 2019, and that the ACA’s guaranteed-issue and community-rating provisions are inseverable from the mandate.”

This unfortunate and unbelievable legal argument is a direct Administration assault on the health care of millions of consumers who are older or sicker. According to our partners at Justice in Aging, “Without these protections, 25 million Americans aged 50-64 may be unable to see doctors because they won’t be able to pay their much higher premiums.” The ACA’s guaranteed issue of coverage and community rating are vital protections for people who could be discriminated against and denied coverage. This latest action by the Administration will be added to our growing list of ways our health care is being sabotaged.

The ACA made it possible for people with pre-existing conditions to gain access to quality and often life-saving coverage. Millions of people now have access to essential benefits such as prescription drugs, preventive services, emergency services and hospitalization. As an organization working for fair access to health care, we renew our call to the Administration to defend and implement the ACA as it is the law of the land. We say again that the courts must not be used to sabotage our health care.

June 14, 2018, B. Belton

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