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Attorney General James’ Statement on ACA Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Attorney General James’ Statement on
ACA Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Coalition of 20 States and DC Defend the ACA in Supreme Court

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James and a coalition that includes 20 states and the District of Columbia today defended the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the United States Supreme Court in the health care repeal case, California v. Texas. The coalition defended the many provisions of the ACA against the Trump Administration and a Texas-led state coalition seeking to dismantle the health care reform law that has provided new coverage to at least 20 million Americans.

“The Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for a decade now, but President Trump, his administration, and Republicans allies are trying to take us backwards in time by stripping health coverage away from millions of Americans,” said Attorney General James. “Today, Donald Trump and Republicans fought to kick children off their parents’ health care plans, fought to rip health coverage away from the 133 million with pre-existing conditions, fought to charge women more for no other reason than being a woman, fought to increase the cost of prescription drugs for seniors, and fought to deprive millions of Americans access to quality, affordable health care. Time after time, President Trump and his Republican allies have failed to get Congress to do its dirty work and has instead attempted to dismantle the ACA, piece-by-piece. We are confident the court will reject Republicans’ arguments today, just like it did in 2012, and that we will prevail in protecting Americans’ right to health care.”

Every American across the nation could be affected if the ACA is dismantled. At risk is:

  • Health care for the 20 million Americans who are able to afford insurance either through Medicaid expansion or thanks to tax credits and employer-sponsored plans through health care exchanges.
  • Guaranteed coverage for the more than 133 million Americans who have a pre-existing health condition, including 17 million kids, that benefit from the law’s protections against discrimination and higher costs based on health status.
  • Health care for young adults under the age of 26 covered by a parent’s plan.
  • Health care for families of children with chronic health conditions who are currently protected from lifetime insurance limits.
  • Funding for our nation’s public health system, which includes investments in local and state public health systems that have helped during the COVID-19 pandemic; FDA biosimilars, which power drug costs; and more, including Medicare payment reforms, Indian health services, and work to fight the opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit — originally filed by a Texas-led coalition and later supported by the Trump Administration — argued that a Republican-led Congress rendered the ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional when it reduced the penalty for forgoing coverage to $0. They further argued that the rest of the ACA should be held invalid as a result of that change. Attorney General James and a coalition of attorneys general defended the ACA in its entirety, supported by a bipartisan group of amici, including scholars, economists, public health experts, hospital and provider associations, patient groups, counties, cities, and more. While the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held the individual mandate to be unconstitutional, it declined to further rule on the validity of the ACA’s remaining provisions. The court instead sent the case back to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to determine whether the problem with the mandate requires striking down the whole law. In January, however, Attorney General James and the coalition petitioned the Supreme Court for expedited review to protect Americans’ health care and resolve the uncertainty created by the Fifth Circuit decision. The Supreme Court granted review of the case in March for the upcoming term.

In addition to New York, the coalition that argued the case before the Supreme Court included the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota (by and through its Department of Commerce), Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the governor of Kentucky.

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