|RICHMOND (November 10, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring issued the below statement following this morning’s oral arguments in California v. Texas, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court:
“Today’s arguments could have life or death consequences by deciding the fate of health care for tens of millions of Americans, who would not have coverage without the Affordable Care Act,” said Attorney General Herring. “It is unacceptable that the Trump Administration and Republican state attorneys general are still trying to rip health care away from Americans while we are in the middle of a deadly pandemic that has already killed 240,000 Americans and left millions of others unemployed.
“The Affordable Care Act has provided millions of Virginians with access to quality, affordable health care and coverage for pre-existing conditions. I am incredibly proud of the work my colleagues and I have done to protect our country’s health care system from these political attacks and I feel confident that we will succeed following today’s arguments.”
If successful, this lawsuit would rescind critical healthcare coverage protections for 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, including 3.4 million Virginians, who would lose their protections, and would allow health insurance companies to deny individuals care or charge more based on their health status. In today’s oral arguments, the coalition argues that the ACA is not only legal but is a crucial resource for Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic and recession.
In order to protect Virginians’ health care, Attorney General Herring stepped in to defend the Affordable Care Act in a lawsuit that could eliminate the ACA and remove protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. Attorney General Herring intervened in the lawsuit after President Trump announced that he would not defend the ACA in court and joined with Republican state attorneys general in trying to strike down the law. When a district court judge in Texas issued a decision in December 2018 finding the ACA to be unconstitutional, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues immediately appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
In January, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the Fifth Circuits decision in Texas v. U.S. The Fifth Circuit’s decision held that the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional and called into question whether the remaining provisions of the ACA could still stand, including those that protect and provide coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions.
In May, Attorney General Herring and the coalition filed a brief at the Supreme Court defending the ACA against efforts by the Trump Administration and Republicans to repeal the entire ACA. In July, the coalition filed a reply brief in the U.S. Supreme Court further defending the ACA against this reckless lawsuit.
If the Trump Administration and Texas get their way, they would put at risk important advancements in healthcare access made under the ACA, including:
- More than 12 million Americans receiving coverage through Medicaid expansion
- Nearly 9 million individuals nationwide receiving tax credits to help afford health insurance coverage through individual marketplaces
- Millions of working families relying on high-quality, employer-sponsored insurance plans
- Important protections prohibiting insurers from denying health insurance to the 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions (like diabetes, cancer, or pregnancy) or from charging individuals higher premiums because of their health status
- Improved payment reforms and increased access to Medicare for seniors and people disabilities
- Nearly $1.3 trillion in federal funding being dedicated to keeping Americans healthy and covered, including Medicaid expansion and public health dollars
- The expansion of health insurance and services that have been critical in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic
If the Trump Administration and its allies are successful in eliminating the ACA with this lawsuit:
- 642,000 Virginians could lose their health coverage, leading to a 96% increase in the uninsured rate in the Commonwealth
- The 3,441,400 Virginians who have pre-existing conditions would lose their protections and insurance companies would be able to deny or drop coverage and charge more for those pre-existing conditions
- 289,081 Virginians in the marketplace would have to pay more for their coverage
- 109,517 Virginia seniors could have to pay more for their prescription drugs
- Insurance companies would be allowed to discriminate against women by charging them higher premiums
- $1.15 billion in tax credits that helped 335,000 Virginians afford insurance in 2017 would be ended
- Funding from our nation’s public health system would be stripped, including work to combat the opioid epidemic
- Billions in federal aid for health care would be stripped, including $458 million in FY 2019 and $1.9 billion in FY 2020