Attorney General Josh Stein released the following statement as he begins defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow. Attorney General Stein, along with a coalition of 19 other states and D.C., is defending the ACA in California v. Texas.
“Health care is a matter of life and death – even more so during a devastating global pandemic that has lasted nearly a year and infected more than 290,000 North Carolinians. The Affordable Care Act is central to guaranteeing the health care that so many North Carolinians need.
“Eliminating the ACA threatens North Carolinians’ ability to get affordable and accessible health care. The ACA is vital for the more than 500,000 North Carolinians who gained health insurance through the Exchange, the more than 4 million North Carolinians with pre-existing conditions who are protected from discrimination, the 1.8 million North Carolina seniors who save on their medication, the 70,000 young North Carolinians who can stay covered on their parents’ insurance, and the more than 400,000 working families in North Carolina who receive subsidies to help them afford their insurance.
“Protecting the ACA means protecting all of these North Carolinians. It also means protecting our health care economy and ensuring that health insurance premiums don’t skyrocket. Tomorrow, my colleagues and I will do everything in our power to defend people’s access to affordable, quality health care at the Supreme Court.”
“Equitable access to health care is an essential ingredient to realizing our country’s full potential,” said NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “We need to focus on expanding access to affordable care, not restricting it. We do not want to go back to a time where more people can’t afford preventive care, can’t afford to manage chronic conditions, and can’t get health coverage because they have a pre-existing condition. Not only do we need to protect the Affordable Care Act, in our state we need to fully take advantage of it and give hard-working North Carolinians access to affordable care by expanding Medicaid.”
In addition to the millions of North Carolinians for whom the ACA is critical, North Carolina hospitals could also lose $22.7 billion over the next 10 years and North Carolina physicians could lose $8.7 billion. Uncompensated care costs in North Carolina would increase by a startling $35 billion over this period, forcing everyone’s health insurance premiums to increase.
The lawsuit, originally filed by a Texas-led coalition of 18 states and supported by the Trump administration, argued that Congress rendered the ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional when it reduced the penalty to $0 and that the rest of the ACA should be held invalid as a result of that change. Attorney General Stein and the coalition defended the ACA in its entirety. The Fifth Circuit held that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but declined to further rule on the validity of the ACA’s remaining provisions. In January, Attorney General Stein petitioned the Supreme Court for review to protect Americans’ health care and resolve the uncertainty created by the Fifth Circuit decision.
A diverse group of bipartisan attorneys general, economists, patient groups, hospitals, health care providers, health care insurance companies, cities, counties, tribes, and more have expressed support for the coalition’s defense of the ACA and highlighted the importance of safeguarding our public health system.
Attorney General Stein is joined in this lawsuit by the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota (by and through its Department of Commerce), Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the Governor of Kentucky.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments remotely on Tuesday, November 10, 2020, at 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT.