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With SCOTUS Vacancy, Affordable Care Act “Dangles From A Thread,” Leaving 20 Million American’s Health Coverage In The Balance

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has put an even brighter spotlight on the GOP lawsuit that threatens to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, a law that currently provides at least 20 million Americans with health coverage, and protects 1.7 million North Carolinians living with pre-existing conditions from discrimination in treatment. 

Senator Tillis has stood behind the lawsuit, saying he supports anything that takes the ACA “off the table.” Now, he’s made it clear that he’ll support whoever the President nominates, even if that means they’ll vote to take away a law that is covering millions of Americans’ health care during a global pandemic. 

As the Washington Post writes, “the impact would be immense,” as millions, including 1.7 million North Carolinians “would lose the law’s consumer protections, including a ban on discriminating against those with preexisting medical conditions” — something that Senator Tillis claims he will protect, but independent fact checkers say his bill would leave protections “on the cutting room floor.” Eliminating the Affordable Care Act would also take away the option for North Carolina to expand Medicaid, a policy that Senator Tillis blocked as Speaker of the House, and has continued to brag about, even as the coverage gap in North Carolina grows. 

Over the weekend, Cal Cunningham released a statement on the SCOTUS vacancy: “North Carolinians are already voting and will continue to do so in the coming weeks. They deserve that opportunity to have their voices heard, and then, it should be up to the next President and next Senate to fill the vacancy on our Court.”

The contrast couldn’t be more clear for North Carolina voters: While Senator Tillis has spent his entire career attacking health care, leaving North Carolina in a worse spot to handle the coronavirus pandemic, Cal has “positioned himself as a defender of the [ACA] and proponent of Medicaid expansion.” In the Senate, he will work to protect and improve the Affordable Care Act by adding a public option and advocating for expanded Medicaid in North Carolina.

NPR: The Future Of The Affordable Care Act In A Supreme Court Without Ginsburg

  • The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has raised the profile of a case that marks the latest existential threat to the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case the week after the general election in November.
  • At least 20 million Americans — and likely many more who sought coverage since the start of the coronavirus pandemic — who buy insurance through the ACA marketplaces or have Medicaid through the law’s expansion could lose health coverage right away. Many millions more would lose the law’s popular protections that guarantee coverage for people with preexisting health conditions, including those who have had COVID-19.
  • But a sudden elimination would impact more than just patients. Insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals and doctors all have changed the way they do business because of incentives and penalties in the health law. If it’s struck down, many of the “rules of the road” would be wiped away, including billing and payment mechanisms.
  • As Nicholas Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan who specializes in health issues, tweeted: “Among other things, the Affordable Care Act now dangles from a thread.”

Washington Post: The Health 202: Obamacare’s chances of surviving Supreme Court diminished with RBG’s death

  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is not-so-great news for Obamacare.
  • Legal scholars tell me the long-embattled health-care law’s prospects for surviving yet another Supreme Court hearing, scheduled for one week after the election, are far less certain now that the court has lost one of its four liberal justices. 
  • “It’s insane to me the validity of a law passed 10 years ago is in jeopardy because of the death of an 87-year-old woman,” Nick Bagley, a health law professor at the University of Michigan who closely tracks Affordable Care Act-related litigation, told me.
  • Ginsburg’s death has intensified Democrats’ focus on the high-profile case against Obamacare, brought by conservative states and supported by the Trump administration. Democrats won control of the House in 2018 partly by making the lawsuit a major theme, and this year they’ve been constantly reminding voters in ads and campaign speeches that the court could strike down the law.
  • Tens of millions of Americans would lose coverage through Medicaid and subsidized marketplaces and many more would lose the law’s consumer protections, including a ban on discriminating against those with preexisting medical conditions. Passed in 2010, the law’s main components have been in place for six years and are now entrenched within the U.S. health-care system.