Kilmartin moves to defend Affordable Care Act against lawsuit
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, joined by 15 attorneys general, on Monday filed a motion to intervene in Texas et al. v. United States et al., a lawsuit filed in federal district court in Texas that seeks to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Texas lawsuit imperils health care coverage and funding for all Americans, particularly more vulnerable groups like seniors, children, and people with chronic medical conditions or disabilities. The coalition of 15 states and the District of Columbia, seeks to enter the lawsuit to vigorously defend the ACA and the millions of families across the country who rely on it for affordable care.
“The lawsuit filed by the State of Texas is intended to be a poison pill to the Affordable Care Act, and is an attempt to end run the dozens of failed congressional attempts to repeal the program,” said Attorney General Kilmartin. “This is a short-sighted, politically-driven strategy that has the real possibility of effectively ending health coverage for millions of individuals, including the tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders who are now covered.”
According to HealthSource RI, as of January 31, 2018, 30,637 individuals enrolled and paid for 2018 health coverage through HealthSource RI, compared to 29,224 in 2017. In addition, HealthSource RI saw a 45 percent increase in new customers to the state-based marketplace this year, up from 5,543 individuals in 2017 to 8,038 in 2018.
The Texas lawsuit petitioned the federal court to stop Medicaid expansion; end tax credits that help people afford insurance; allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions; take away seniors’ prescription drug discounts; strip funding from our nation’s public health system, including work to combat the opioid epidemic; and much more. If the ACA were terminated, Americans living in the states seeking to intervene could lose half a trillion dollars in healthcare funding if this lawsuit succeeded.
Texas filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division on February 28, 2018 and was joined by 19 other states. Texas alleges that the ACA is no longer constitutional due to the passage of the Republican tax break bill, passed in December 2017, which zeroed out the penalty payment due under the ACA’s individual mandate for those who could afford to pay for their health insurance but failed to do so.
In the motion to intervene, the attorneys general allege that the ACA has not been repealed by the passage of the Republican tax break bill, and its constitutionality has been upheld by the Supreme Court:
• The ACA has survived nearly 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts in Congress since it was passed in 2010.
• In National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius (2012), the Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate is constitutional.
• Rhode Island and every state in the United States would suffer grave harm if the plaintiffs achieved the goals of their lawsuit.
Joining Attorney General Kilmartin in filing today’s motion are the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.