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Key health care voices weigh in ahead of Supreme Court arguments in ACA repeal lawsuit

Date: Nov 06 2020

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Organizations that filed briefs underscore dire consequences of lawsuit and the need to uphold the ACA amid the pandemic

Washington, D.C. — Organizations representing everyone with a stake in America’s health care system—patients and patient advocacy groups; doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers; public health experts; insurers; states, cities and counties; economists; small businesses; and legal experts from across the jurisprudential spectrum—are calling on the Supreme Court to uphold the entirety of the Affordable Care Act after it hears oral argument in California v. Texas  on Tuesday, Nov. 10.  Earlier this year, the American Public Health Association, the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the Service Employees International Union, legal scholars from across the ideological spectrum, and many others filed dozens of important amicus briefs underscoring the dire consequences of abolishing the ACA and the need to uphold the law amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Invalidating the ACA would cause severe harm to patients, providers, and communities across the country, particularly amid a deadly pandemic. 23 million Americans will directly lose coverage, possibly overnight, and the 135 million Americans with preexisting conditions will lose benefits and vital protections enshrined into law. Additionally, this lawsuit would have catastrophic consequences for public health and dramatically inhibit our ability to fight the virus. It would also throw the entire health care system into chaos, leading it to melt down across the country just as hospitals are being pushed the brink by the pandemic.

“Abolishing the Affordable Care Act would be deeply damaging to the American health care system and public health,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “It would reverse years of lives saved and diseases avoided due to its coverage and insurance protections and its important investments in public health. Its loss would add to the devastation we are already seeing from the COVID-19 pandemic and would remove health insurance protections and important funding for public health laboratories and immunization programs right when we need them the most.”

“CHA believes health care is a basic human right and that the ACA has been vital in expanding access to care,” said Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, president and CEO, CHA.  “Our members witness firsthand the devastating impact that a lack of affordable health insurance and health care has on vulnerable members of our society, especially during the pandemic.  If the Supreme Court should strike down the whole of the ACA, it would wreak havoc on the U.S. health care system, cause unnecessary hardship for millions of Americans and irreparably harm hospitals.”

"It is an outrage that Republican leaders s are attempting yet again to take away people’s healthcare coverage in the middle of a pandemic -- including Black and brown women who are putting their own lives on the line to care and serve others -- and raise the cost of healthcare to line the pockets of insurance and drug companies," said Mary Kay Henry, International President of SEIU. "As the nation’s largest healthcare union, we will continue to fight for healthcare for all. We believe healthcare is a human right, not a privilege, and we will continue to call for affordable healthcare —including long term care— for working people of every race and background, no matter where they work or where they live."

“Settled severability doctrine requires the Court to save the rest of a law when one provision is unvalidated unless Congress expressly provides otherwise,” said Abbe Gluck, Professor of Law and the founding Faculty Director of the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School. “Congress could not have expressed its intention for the ACA to survive without a mandate more clearly than it did, despite the challengers’ misleading argument to the contrary. For the Court to strike down the entire 2000-page law anyway, and after 70 failed attempts to repeal the law, would not only violate severability doctrine; it would be an undemocratic usurpation of the legislative prerogative.”

Gluck, who filed a brief alongside conservative scholars who backed previous challenges to the ACA, expanded on her legal argument in a piece published this week, The Affordable Care Act Does Not Have An Inseverability Clause.”

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that a majority of Americans (58%) don’t want the Supreme Court to overturn the entire ACA. Ten years after its passage, the law is currently enjoying record levels of popularity. 

If the Trump administration and his allies are successful, this case would overturn the entire ACA and lead to health care chaos across the country.

  • Protections for 135 million people with pre-existing conditions: GONE.
  • Prevention and Public Health Fund: GONE.
  • Requirement that essential vaccines be offered at no-cost: GONE.
  • Medicaid expansion currently covering 15 million people: GONE.
  • Improvements to Medicare, including closed Medicare “donut hole” that reduces prescription drug costs for 12 million seniors: GONE.
  • Allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26: GONE.
  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women: GONE.
  • Marketplace tax credits and coverage for 9 million people: GONE.
  • Rules to hold insurance companies accountable: GONE.
  • Key support for local hospitals: GONE.
  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits on coverage: GONE.
  • Limit on out-of-pocket costs: GONE.
  • Requirements that insurance companies cover prescription drugs and maternity care: GONE.
  • Lower costs for 60 million Medicare beneficiaries: GONE.
  • Essential Health Benefits (EHBs): GONE.
  • Required improvements to employer-sponsored coverage: GONE.
  • Small business tax credits: GONE.


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