Advance Notice: Briefs

Nessel joins 19 states, Kentucky governor in defense of ACA in Supreme Court case

By: - May 8, 2020 11:20 am

Attorney General Dana Nessel, March 5, 2020 | Anna Liz Nichols

The fight to prevent President Donald Trump’s administration and the state of Texas from repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continued Wednesday as Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, 19 other attorneys general and Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the brief, the attorneys general argue that patients, doctors, hospitals, employers, workers, states, pharmaceutical companies and more will be negatively affected if the ACA should fall.

“Millions of Americans concerned about their well-being are provided with resources they need through the Affordable Care Act, but the ACA is under attack,” Nessel said in a statement. “This action to toss out the ACA without a realistic substitute is putting the health of our country and its residents in jeopardy.”

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The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to review the December 2019 ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court, which called into question whether the remaining provisions of the ACA, aside from the individual mandate, could still stand.

The original lawsuit was filed by a Texas-led coalition. It argued that because the ACA’s individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional and its penalty for forgoing coverage was eliminated, the rest of the ACA should also be held invalid. The Trump administration later signaled its support for the lawsuit.

The legal brief joined by Nessel says that while the Fifth Circuit Court did hold the ruling that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, it did not address the validity of the ACA’s remaining provisions, which should be able to stand.

The brief also highlights important advancements in health care access made nationally under the ACA, including more than 12 million Americans receiving coverage through Medicaid expansion and protections to individuals with pre-existing conditions.

In Michigan specifically, Nessel notes that a repeal of the ACA and Medicaid expansion could mean loss of coverage for 720,000 Michiganders, the end of protections for more than 4.1 million Michiganders with pre-existing conditions and more, including:

  • Loss of coverage for the 688,300 Michiganders covered through Medicaid expansion
  • 73,000 young adults no longer able to stay on their parents’ coverage
  • An end to protections for women, who were previously charged 50% more than men by insurance companies
  • Key support for rural hospitals could vanish, leaving Michigan hospitals on the hook for $1.9 billion in uncompensated care costs
  • More than 4.5 million Michiganders could once again have to pay for preventive care, like mammograms and flu shots
  • Insurers would no longer have to cover a set of essential health benefits, including hospitalization, prescription drugs, or mental health services

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“The Affordable Care Act has advanced health care initiatives for millions of working-class families and individuals with pre-existing conditions, and my colleagues and I urge the Supreme Court to consider the public’s best interest as it reviews the Fifth Circuit’s decision,” Nessel said.

In the brief defending the ACA, Nessel joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota (by and through its Department of Commerce), Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia, as well as Beshear.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).