New York Attorney General Letitia James and a coalition — which includes 19 additional states and the District of Columbia — filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Texas v. U.S. The decision affirmed a lower court’s ruling that the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional, yet refused to rule on the validity of the rest of the ACA — calling into question whether the remaining provisions of the statute could still stand, including those that protect and provide coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions. Because this decision causes uncertainty that may harm the health of millions of Americans — in addition to doctors, clinics, patients, and the healthcare market — Attorney General James and the coalition are petitioning the Supreme Court to take up the case and resolve it before the end of the court’s current term in June.
“The Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for a decade now and despite efforts by President Trump, his Administration, and Congressional Republicans to take us backwards, we will not strip health coverage away from millions of Americans,” said Attorney General James. “Our coalition will continue to fight any effort to kick children off their parents’ health care plans, to rip health coverage away from those with pre-existing conditions, to charge women more for no other reason than being a woman, or to deprive millions of Americans access to quality, affordable health care. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled the ACA was legal, so we will not allow President Trump and his Republican allies to dismantle the ACA, piece-by-piece, after failing to get Congress to do its dirty work.”
The lawsuit — originally filed by a Texas-led coalition and supported by the Trump Administration — argued that Congress rendered the ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional when it reduced the penalty for noncompliance with the law to $0. The plaintiffs further argued that the rest of the ACA should be held invalid as a result of that change. A coalition of attorneys general — that included New York — defended the ACA in its entirety, supported by a bipartisan group of amici, including scholars, economists, public health experts, hospital and provider associations, patient groups, counties, cities, and more. The Fifth Circuit held the individual mandate to be unconstitutional, but declined to further rule on the validity of the ACA’s remaining provisions. The court instead sent the case back to the Northern District of Texas to determine which provisions of President Obama’s signature health care law are still valid.
This petition makes clear that states, patients, doctors, hospitals, employers, pharmaceutical companies, and more will be impacted by the looming uncertainty caused by the Fifth Circuit’s decision. It asks the Supreme Court to review the case this term. The petition also highlights the important advancements in health care access made under the ACA, including:
- More than 12 million Americans now receive health coverage through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion;
- Nearly nine million individuals nationwide receive tax credits to help subsidize their health insurance coverage through individual marketplaces;
- Millions of working families rely on high-quality employer-sponsored health insurance plans;
- Important protections prohibit insurers from denying health insurance to the 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, like diabetes, cancer, or pregnancy, or from charging individuals higher premiums because of their health status; and
- Nearly $1.3 trillion in federal funding has been dedicated to keeping Americans healthy and covered, which includes spending through Medicaid expansion and public health dollars.
Filing the petition with Attorney General James are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota (by and through its Department of Commerce), Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the governor of Kentucky.