Susan J. Demas
A repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could leave about 23.3 million Americans — including 827,000 Michigan residents — without health care coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report.
Research from the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, looks at what could happen if the ACA is overturned in the coming months. In an 82-page brief filed last week for California v. Texas, President Donald Trump’s administration and 18 other states asked the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the ACA.
It’s not a new venture – Republicans have made several attempts to fully repeal or cut parts of the law informally known as “Obamacare” have occurred since a Democratic-majority Congress enacted it and former President Barack Obama signed it into law in 2010.
If a full repeal of the ACA had happened prior to the pandemic, more than 1.9 million Americans and approximately 720,000 Michigan residents would have lost health care insurance, according to the Washington, D.C.-based group. But nearly 3.4 million more Americans and 107,000 more Michiganders would lose coverage if the ACA was repealed during the pandemic, namely because the health crisis is shuttering the jobs and businesses that ordinarily provide insurance coverage.
“No action would be more damaging to Americans’ health care than if the Trump administration achieves their desired goal of overturning the ACA in its entirety, which is exactly what they hope to achieve in this case,” said Brad Woodhouse, executive director of the pro-ACA group Protect Our Care .
Through a 2017 tax bill, Congress eliminated income tax penalties meant for those who failed to obtain health insurance, thus scrapping the “individual mandate” portion of the ACA. But what remains in question is if that partial repeal — which scrapped financial penalties for remaining uninsured — invalidates the entire law.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued in his filing that “the remainder of the ACA should not be allowed to remain in effect.”
In December, the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals struck down that individual mandate portion of the law. However, it did not decide what parts of the law — if any — could be retained. The appeals court sent it back to a lower district court to decide if the remaining mandates had standing.
Supreme Court justices decided in March to hear oral arguments for the case in their 2020-21 term after refusing to do so on an expedited basis in the 2019-20 term. That means that it will not be decided before the November election.
It will be the third time the nation’s highest court hears a challenge to the ACA.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is part of a coalition of AGs that has filed a brief supporting the ACA.
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