Connolly, Over 120 House Democrats Urge Trump to Drop ACA Lawsuit During Coronavirus Pandemic
Today, on the 10th Anniversary of the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA) being signed into law, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) joined Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and 126 of their Democratic colleagues in sending a letter to President Trump calling on him to end the lawsuit that seeks to end the ACA. Specifically, it asks the President to order the Department of Justice to drop their support of the GOP’s lawsuit to strike down the ACA, to urge the plaintiffs to drop their case, and to protect the health care of all Americans during this global health crisis.
The Members wrote, “Though access to affordable, quality health care coverage is essential to protect the health of our communities at all times, that coverage becomes even more critical during a public health emergency. The ACA gave more than 20 million Americans health coverage for the first time, ensured that 135 million Americans couldn’t be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition, offered 2.3 million children the ability to remain on their parents’ insurance, and lowered health care costs for millions more. Without the ACA, our uninsured rate will spike by 65 percent as critical health care coverage will be unavailable or unaffordable for millions. Uninsured individuals are less likely to seek testing and treatment for COVID-19, which will further the spread of the coronavirus and crush providers by the level of uncompensated care that will ensue.”
In the letter, Congressman Connolly and his colleagues told the President that he cannot guarantee that every individual in the United States affected by COVID-19 can access the medical treatment, services, and therapeutics that they need if the Supreme Court strikes down the ACA, leaving hundreds of millions of people without health insurance or protections for preexisting conditions.
They continued, “Preliminary unemployment data reveal that COVID-19 has already devastated families across the United States. Workers who are being laid off during this crisis at least have the peace of mind to know that they can obtain affordable coverage through Medicaid expansion or the ACA individual market, regardless of whether or not they are currently employed. But if the ACA is struck down by the Supreme Court, 17 million low-income Americans who rely on the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and the millions who rely on the ACA marketplace would lose their health care on top of their jobs.”
The letter goes on to remind the President that his Administration has already relied on the ACA to protect Americans during this unprecedented public health emergency: “During a March 4 White House press briefing, Vice President Mike Pence invoked the ACA’s Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) to assure Americans on private health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid that they would be able to obtain free diagnostic testing for coronavirus…On March 12, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published additional guidance to indicate that the 10 existing EHBs could include coverage for all diagnostic testing, treatments, isolations, and quarantines related to COVID-19.”
The letter highlights the critical funding that the ACA provides for public health initiatives and community health centers, which serve as a lifeline for the uninsured and for undocumented workers and their families, who are reluctant to seek COVID-19 testing in fear of the President’s cruel deportation policies. It also highlights that the ACA has lowered drug prices for older Americans, who are most at risk for COVID-19.
The letter closes by reminding President Trump that the ACA saves lives: “If the Supreme Court were to strike down the ACA during the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States health care system could immediately collapse. We urge you to prevent that devastating possibility by immediately withdrawing your support for the Texas v. California lawsuit. You must not sabotage the health care of over three hundred million Americans during a global health crisis.”
In addition to Connolly and Schakowsky, the letter was signed by Reps. Adams, Allred, Barragán, Bass, Beatty, Blumenauer, Blunt Rochester, Brown, Brownley, Bustos, Butterfield, Cárdenas, Carson, Cartwright, Casten, Castor, Castro, Chu, Cicilline, Cisneros, Clark, Clarke, Clay, Cleaver, S. Cohen, Courtney, Cox, Craig, Crist, Davids, D. Davis, DeFazio, DeLauro, Deutch, Dingell, Doyle, Engel, Escobar, Espaillat, Evans, Fletcher, Foster, Fudge, C. Garcia, S. Garcia, Gomez, Grijalva, Haaland, Hastings, Hayes, Heck, Higgins, Himes, Huffman, Jeffries, H.C. Johnson, Kaptur, Keating, Kennedy, Khanna, Kildee, Kilmer, Kirkpatrick, Kuster, Larson, Lawrence, B. Lee, A. Levin, M. Levin, Lieu, Lipinski, Loebsack, Lowenthal, S. Lynch, C. Maloney, McCollum, McEachin, McGovern, Meeks, Meng, Mucarsel-Powell, S. Murphy, Nadler, Napolitano, Neguse, Norton, Ocasio-Cortez, O'Halleran, Omar, Panetta, Pappas, Pascrell, Payne, Phillips, Pingree, Pocan, Porter, Pressley, Quigley, Raskin, Richmond, Rouda, T. Ryan, Rush, Sanchez, Schneider, Sewell, Shalala, Soto, Speier, Takano, Titus, Tlaib, Tonko, Torres, Underwood, Vargas, Veasey, Velázquez, Wasserman Schultz, Welch, Wexton, Wild, and Yarmuth.
Vice President Mike Pence, White House Coronavirus Task Force Lead; Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar; Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia; Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin; and Attorney General William Barr were copied on the letter.
A signed copy of the letter is available HERE.