Backed by the Trump Administration and with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton leading, Republican governors and attorneys general from around the nation on Thursday filed briefs seeking to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to repeal the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.
The lawsuit, if successful, would leave 2 million Texans without health insurance and eliminate protections for more than 10 million Texans with preexisting conditions.
The Supreme Court agreed in March to take the case up. A lot has changed since then. Millions are out of work, and COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are setting new records daily in Texas.
Every Texan Senior Policy Analyst Stacey Pogue said the ACA has proven itself even more essential over the last few tumultuous months. She calls it “unthinkable” to consider removing that safety net.
“I can’t even imagine 10 years ago if the marketplace hadn’t been open and we had hit this kind of a recession, the coverage losses would have been staggering, but now people have an actual way when they lose job based insurance to go get coverage.”
In December, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the ACA’s so-called individual mandate, which requires people to buy health insurance, was unconstitutional, but it did not decide the fate of the rest of the act.
Paxton and the other red-state AGs argue that if the insurance mandate violates the Constitution, then the entire law should be struck down.
“Congress declared in the text of the law that the individual mandate is the centerpiece of Obamacare. Without the unlawful mandate, the rest of the law cannot stand,” said Paxton. “Obamacare has failed, and the sooner it is invalidated, the sooner each state can decide what type of health care system will best provide for those with preexisting conditions, which is the way the founders intended.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic-led U.S. House has joined California and other blue states in asking the justices to reverse the lower court and preserve the law.
“We should be fighting to protect and expand health care for all, not cutting off access for millions of people,” said Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa. “Texas already ranks dead last in health care coverage. Texas has seen 13 straight days of rising coronavirus hospitalizations and more than 10,000 cases over the last two days. Health care is more essential now than ever.”
The Supreme Court has yet to schedule arguments in the case, which is to be heard during the court’s new term that begins in October. It’s possible the dispute could be heard before Election Day, but a decision would likely come after the election.
Paxton’s brief is available here.