WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, lawyers for a Trump-backed lawsuit to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA) filed opening briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court.  If the U.S. Supreme Court sides with the Trump Administration in the health care repeal lawsuit known as California v. Texas, it would cause millions to lose coverage, eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, drive up health costs for all consumers, and allow insurance companies to start discriminating against Americans on account of their medical history, which could make it nearly impossible for people who have contracted novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to access health coverage.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) slammed President Trump for trying to strip health care from over 23 million Americans in the midst of the pandemic and noted that neither President Trump, nor any Republican lawmaker, has yet to specify how they would protect people with pre-existing conditions if they win their lawsuit and invalidate the ACA.

Senator Reed stated:

“This lawsuit could cause a manmade disaster on top of a pandemic and lead to financial hardship and a health care crisis for millions of hardworking Americans and the nation.  The Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans tried many times and failed to overturn the law.  So now, after appointing two new Supreme Court Justices, President Trump is trying to use the court system to do it for him.  This is a cynical, ill-conceived ploy to end health protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“As COVID-19 cases are rising in states like Texas, and with millions of Americans losing their jobs, President Trump is irresponsibly trying to take away health care for millions of Americans.

“This pandemic has exposed serious disparities and gaps in our health care system.  Congress must work together to help address them, lower costs, and expand access to affordable health coverage.  Instead, President Trump is trying to do the opposite: His lawsuit would strip health care from millions and leave our economy in even worse shape.  And his budgets would slash Medicare and Medicaid.  This would be awful at any time and particularly calamitous as the nation grapples with a pandemic.

“If the Republican lawsuit is successful, millions of sick people will end up in emergency rooms with nowhere else to go and no way to pay and it will cost taxpayers far more in the long run. 

“The Trump Administration should withdraw this lawsuit immediately.  If it doesn’t, than the fate of our economy, health care system, and millions of at risk patients will rest with the nine justices on the Supreme Court.”

According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, 23.3 million Americans would be at risk of losing their health insurance if the Trump-backed Republican lawsuit were to succeed, this includes 79,000 Rhode Island who would lose access to affordable health care.  Additionally, as many as 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions would lose key protections under the law, including an estimated 445,000 Rhode Islanders. 

The lawsuit was initiated by Texas and multiple Republican-led states, and argues that the law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be overturned.  President Trump took the unusual step of ordering the Justice Department not to defend the ACA law.  According to news reports, even Attorney General William Barr argued against repealing the law in full and noted the major disruption and damage doing so would cause, but he was overruled by President Trump.

Since the Trump Administration won’t defend the law, twenty states, including California and Rhode Island, have joined together to argue in support of the law, along with a legal defense team from the U.S. House of Representatives.  In addition to California and Rhode Island, the other states defending the ACA are: in support of the Affordable Care Act are: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.  A diverse, bipartisan group of amicus briefs supports the pro-ACA coalition, including leading scholars, economists, public health experts, hospitals, patient groups, and cities, and counties.

The states backing the Texas coalition ACA repeal lawsuit: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia.