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As the coronavirus sends the country’s health care system into crisis mode, a group of Republican state attorneys general are still moving forward with a lawsuit that would overturn the Affordable Care Act and take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Earlier this month, Senator Tillis “did not directly answer” when asked if he supported the lawsuit, and continued to hide behind a sham health care bill that experts say “fall[s] short of offering the coverage in the ACA.” Despite the fact that the lawsuit would be devastating for the 1.7 North Carolinians with pre-existing conditions who rely on the ACA to protect them from being denied coverage, Tillis hasn’t stopped them from “plowing ahead.” He even said last summer that he supports “anything that would ultimately take Obamacare off the table.”
On top of that, North Carolina is leaving over 600,000 people vulnerable without Medicaid expansion, while the disease continues to spread. Instead of seeking necessary treatment for the coronavirus, those that fall in the coverage gap are “forced to make a difficult calculus.”
Their “determination to kill the law, no matter the circumstances” is scary for North Carolinians who need health care now more than ever. Our state deserves a Senator who will fight to protect and expand access to health care, especially in times of crisis. Cal Cunningham understands that the Affordable Care Act has saved lives and improved health outcomes. That’s why North Carolinians can count on him to defend it and work to expand it.
By Sam Brodey – March 30, 2020
The worsening coronavirus outbreak may be stretching the limits of the U.S. health care system and overwhelming state governments, but that isn’t deterring a group of 18 state attorneys general from plowing ahead with a lawsuit that could overturn the Affordable Care Act within a year—a move that could disrupt the health care system at a time of deep crisis.
Their determination to kill the law, no matter the circumstances, mirrors President Trump’s. Asked at a press conference last week whether the virus had changed his plans to press ahead in court, Trump affirmed that “what we want to do is terminate it.”
If the Trump administration and these states succeed in repealing the ACA, the impact on the country’s public health system would be immense, pandemic or not. That the decision could come early next year—at the tail end or recovery stage of a devastating outbreak—gives it a seismic significance for the 20 million Americans covered by the law, the 84 million who are uninsured or under-insured, and the insurers, hospitals, and governments that have adapted to Obamacare over the course of a decade.
While Congress has passed legislation to provide free coronavirus testing to everyone, health insurance to cover related treatments and other ailments is another matter. Last week, an uninsured Boston woman who contracted COVID-19 and went to the hospital was sent a bill for $35,000. On Wednesday, the mayor of Lancaster, California, confirmed that a 17-year old boy died from COVID-19 after a local hospital turned him away for treatment because he didn’t have insurance.
After hearing arguments this fall, the Supreme Court could render a ruling in the case as early as spring of 2021. It’s unclear how long the coronavirus public health emergency will last, but it’s widely accepted that the U.S. will be dealing with its fallout for months, if not years, after it tapers off.
Tara Straw, a health care analyst at the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities who has studied the Texas case, said that pressing ahead with efforts to overturn the ACA right now is “unconscionable.” She predicted the decision could have far-reaching consequences: if the coronavirus outbreak spurs a long period of high unemployment, for example, far more than 20 million people could lose coverage if the ACA is struck down.
That could also shift heavy cost burdens to state governments that are facing long-term financial stress because of the crisis, and hurt broader recovery if people are directing more of their income to medical care. “Talk about compounding a crisis,” said Straw.