A group of state attorneys general is joining together to protect the nation’s health care system by seeking to intervene in and combat a lawsuit aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act, Attorney General Andy Beshear announced today.
The lawsuit claims that the ACA is unconstitutional because the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated the ACA penalty for failing to purchase health insurance – known as the individual mandate.
The lawsuit, filed in a Texas federal court in late February by 18 state attorneys general and two governors, seeks to invalidate the entire ACA on this basis.
Beshear and 15 other attorneys general are seeking to intervene in Texas et al. v. United States et al. saying the lawsuit would devastate the nation’s health care system, causing millions of people to lose access to quality, affordable insurance and cost the intervening states billions of dollars in federal funding.
“Kentucky stands to lose a projected $49.7 billion in federal funding for our expanded Medicaid and subsidies for those on the individual market if this lawsuit moves forward,” Beshear said. “Hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians are at risk of losing their health care coverage, many of whom have coverage for the first time.”
The $49.7 billion is estimated to be lost from 2019-2028.
Beshear said he is seeking to intervene to defend Kentuckians’ health care and to voice his concerns instead of “waiting on the sidelines” while the court decides the issue.
The Texas lawsuit asks the federal court to stop Medicaid expansion; end tax credits that help people afford insurance; allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions; take away seniors’ prescription drug discounts; and strip funding from the nation’s public health system, including work to combat the opioid epidemic.
Beshear said a major provision of the ACA allows significant and critical assistance for drug treatment, providing coverage to an additional 2.8 million Americans suffering from addiction. It requires both private plans and Medicaid to cover certain drug treatment.
“At a time when the opioid crisis is tearing our families apart, this lawsuit seeks to eliminate tens of millions of dollars for treatment and recovery that are used to help our friends, family and neighbors who have fallen into addiction,” Beshear said. “This funding is essential in our ongoing fight against addiction.”
Beshear views Kentucky’s drug epidemic as the single greatest challenge facing the state, which is still recovering from the flood of addictive pain pills and now faces a surge in drugs like heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil.
In seeking to intervene, Beshear is joined by attorneys general in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.
The parties seeking to dismantle the ACA include attorneys general in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the governors of Maine and Mississippi.