Hundreds of Thousands of Massachusetts Residents Could Lose Access
to Coverage and Care if Obamacare is Found Unconstitutional
(BOSTON, Mass.) Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined advocates, patients, and providers outside of the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse to publicly oppose a lawsuit calling for the complete dismantling of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Oral arguments are starting today at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Texas v. United States, which challenges the constitutionality of the federal individual mandate and, with it, the entire ACA. The case was brought in 2018 after Congress zeroed out the federal individual mandate penalty in the tax bill passed in December 2017. The lawsuit is now also being backed by the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice.
In the initial ruling on this lawsuit, a federal judge found in favor of the plaintiffs and ruled that the ACA’s individual mandate is unconstitutional due to the repeal last December of the requirement that people purchase health insurance or pay a fine (the individual mandate penalty), and, therefore, the entire health law should be thrown out. As predicted, the decision is now being appealed in a higher court.
“If this lawsuit is successful, it will have national implications: raising health care costs, gutting protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, and ripping health coverage away from millions of Americans, including hundreds of thousands right here in Massachusetts,” said Amy Rosenthal, Executive Director of Health Care For All. “With this lawsuit, the Commonwealth stands to lose billions of dollars a year to support our state-run health care programs, making it harder for Massachusetts to maintain its first-in-the-nation standing for covering our residents.”
In Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey has joined with a group of more than 20 Attorneys General to defend the ACA in this lawsuit.
“The federal government is in court trying to tear away health care for millions of families in Massachusetts and across the country—and our office has been in this fight since the beginning to protect the ACA,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “This is about standing up to the Trump Administration’s cruel efforts to sabotage our health care system.”
Advocates in other states are holding similar events today to highlight what is at risk with this lawsuit.
“If the lower court ruling is upheld, the results would be catastrophic for people across the country,” said Eva Marie Stahl, associate policy director at Community Catalyst, a national consumer health advocacy organization. “More than 20 million people could lose their health care coverage, and 130 million people with pre-existing health conditions like cancer, asthma and diabetes could be denied coverage or saddled with sky-high insurance premiums. Health insurers would be back in charge, likely forcing older Americans and women to pay more for the same coverage and reinstituting lifetime or annual limits on coverage. We are hopeful that the court will see this case for what it is – a politically motivated distraction – and uphold the ACA.”
In Massachusetts alone, over 220,000 people depend on the subsidies available through the Health Connector because of the ACA. More than 300,000 individuals in the Commonwealth have benefitted from the Medicaid expansion that our state implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act. That’s over 500,000 people whose coverage could be threatened if the courts overturn the law of the land.
“My son has a complex congenital heart defect that required three open heart surgeries and significant medical care early on in life. Despite having health insurance, at the age of 4, he was more than halfway to the lifetime cap we had on our plan. His condition means that more surgery, including a transplant, are in our future.” said Diane Pickles, a resident of Ipswich. “Because of the ACA, families like mine do not have to worry about hitting lifetime caps, being uninsurable because of pre-existing conditions, or having the ability to keep our young adult children insured through a parent’s plan. My son’s life – and the lives of so many others – depend on the ACA being upheld.”
Striking down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act would also strip away many consumer protections enshrined within the law that benefit the people of Massachusetts, including no-cost preventive health services, like yearly check-ups and mammograms, the ability for young people under age 26 to stay on their parent’s health plan and a ban on lifetime coverage limits.
Supporting organizations include:
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American Heart Association
Boston Children’s Hospital
Boston Medical Center
Cambridge Health Alliance
Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals
Disability Policy Consortium
Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School
Greater Boston Legal Services
Health Care For All
Health Law Advocates
Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC)
Parent/Professional Advocacy League
Monday, July 15, 2019