Protect Healthcare amidst COVID-19: Republicans Attacking the ACA must #DropTheLawsuit

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As COVID-19 ravages the nation and grinds the economy to a halt, our health care system is struggling to meet the challenges posed by the worst domestic crisis in over a century. Which makes it all the more baffling that 18 Republican state attorneys general and the Trump Administration want the Supreme Court to strike down one of our greatest public health resources in this crisis, the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA or Obamacare).

The coronavirus emergency exposes the lawsuit, California v. Texas, for what it truly is: a reckless attack on our health care system that puts us all at risk. At a glance, the GOP officials challenge the constitutionality of just one part of the law, the individual mandate. But their ambitions are actually far greater: they want the ENTIRE Affordable Care Act to be abolished.

We cannot afford to let them win—especially in the midst of the COVID-19 emergency when so many lives are on the line.

Today, the ACA provides health care coverage for many Americans during a pandemic that the Centers for Disease Control estimates could kill up to 1.7 million. The ACA directly insures over 22 million individuals—not to mention the many more who gain coverage through provisions in the law that allow young adults to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26 and prohibit the exclusion of those living with pre-existing conditions. As a result, with the ACA, millions of Americans can seek testing, medical counseling, and care for COVID-19. That will save lives, increase the likelihood that infected people are identified and treated early, and reduce the spread of the virus.

But that’s just what the ACA is already doing. Some of the law’s greatest contributions to this fight will be realized in the difficult months ahead. For example, the ACA will require health insurance plans to cover federally-approved COVID-19 vaccines free of charge. This dramatically boosts our ability to quickly inoculate the U.S. population. 

And in the face of an unemployment crisis, Obamacare’s subsidized private health insurance plans will be the best option for the millions of Americans who, along with their jobs, have lost or will lose employer-sponsored health care coverage for themselves and their families. The Department of Labor reported almost 10 million unemployment insurance claims during the last two weeks of March alone. 

Similarly, for those who fall into a precarious financial situation, Medicaid expansion (in the 36 states plus the District of Columbia which have adopted it) can provide a comprehensive health care safety net.

The lawsuit advanced by GOP state attorneys general and the Trump Administration imperils all of these crucial health and economic protections and more.

Lives are on the line. We are asking Attorney General William Barr and the 18 state attorneys general to drop their lawsuit—because if they get what they want, none of us are prepared for what will follow.