After ACA ruling, Nessel, other AGs to likely seek U.S. Supreme Court opinion

By: - December 19, 2019 4:45 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in June 2012 | Will O’Neill via Flickr CC BY 2.0

One day after a federal Appeals Court panel struck down a key part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and other state AGs say they’ll likely seek an opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Attorney General Dana Nessel at the Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force meeting in Flint, July 26, 2019 | Andrew Roth

Congress had already repealed the individual mandate in the ACA, which required that every person be insured. On Wednesday evening, the Appeals Court upheld that, but sent the rest of the law to a lower court for further review, according to reports. The lawsuit filed with the goal of repealing the entire health care law is backed by the President Trump administration.

In a call with reporters on Thursday, the attorneys general say they need to act with expediency to alleviate “uncertainty” on the part of health care consumers. The best way to do that, they say, is to seek a Supreme Court opinion by next year. 

“The discussions have already begun. I think most of us agree we have to address this uncertainty as quickly as possible,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “No one wants to see 130 million people who have pre-existing conditions not knowing what they will have in the future. We’ll probably move very quickly as a coalition sooner than later.”

Data from the Center for American Progress, a Democratic Party-aligned think tank, estimates that 720,000 people in Michigan would lose access to health care if the ACA was repealed in its entirety, as Republicans have long tried to do. 

“I just can’t imagine a more cruel and cold-hearted and devastating impact to our state residents in Michigan,” Nessel said of the potential impact of the ACA being repealed. “To say that our residents are deeply concerned, honestly, is an understatement. They’re terrified. They’re absolutely terrified what will happen in the event that the ACA is repealed completely as a result of whatever happens in the district court now.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the legality of the ACA in a variety of other cases.

Nessel also reflected on the legacy of deceased U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn), who she called “a champion of health care for all Americans,” noting that Dingell was a primary sponsor of the ACA and helped bring about Medicaid in the 1960s. 

Dingell and his widow, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), were both the subjects of attack from President Donald Trump at a Wednesday night rally in Battle Creek.

“For President Trump to have been here in our state and denigrating John Dingell and his legacy, a man who cared so deeply about protecting people’s health care … was just deeply disturbing and quite frankly disgraceful,” Nessel said. 

Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation also expressed concern that Wednesday’s court decision could foreshadow the demise of the ACA. 

“This decision leaves Michigan families and those with preexisting conditions in the lurch, as the Trump Administration gets one step closer to repealing the entire Affordable Care Act and jeopardizing healthcare for millions of Americans,” U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester) said in a statement. 

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) stated: “Let’s be clear: the Trump Administration is determined to overturn the health care law and end protections for millions of Michiganders with preexisting health conditions, raise health care costs and return us to the days when insurance companies could impose annual and lifetime limits on coverage.”

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.