Attorney General Andy Beshear and a coalition of 20 attorneys general filed their reply brief in Texas v. U.S. Wednesday. It is the final step in the fight to preserve health care protections before oral arguments in July.
Today’s brief argues that every provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains valid, and Beshear said he is proud to be leading Kentucky’s efforts to preserve access to affordable health care for more than 1.3 million Kentuckians and tens of millions of Americans.
“I believe that health care is a basic human right and that everyone should be able to go see a doctor when they are sick,” said Beshear. “But right now, we are in the fight of our lives for our health care. The federal government is currently trying to tear away coverage for pre-existing conditions. That is half of all Kentuckians and three out of four members of my family.”
Beshear highlighted some of the ways the lower court’s decision harms Kentuckians, including charging women and seniors more for the same policies, imposing lifetime spending caps on patients with chronic conditions and diseases, and eliminating Medicaid expansion, which puts $15 billion into the state’s economy.
The plaintiffs, led by Texas, filed this lawsuit in February 2018, challenging one provision of the ACA – the requirement that individuals maintain health insurance or pay a tax. Texas’s lawsuit came after Congress reduced that tax to zero dollars in December 2017. The plaintiffs argued that this reduction in the tax made the minimum coverage provision unconstitutional. They also argued that this provision could not be “severed” from the rest of the ACA, meaning that the entire law must be struck down. The district court agreed.
Originally a defendant in the case, the U.S. Department of Justice sided with the plaintiffs in the appeal to argue the entire ACA is invalid.
Today’s filing responds to these arguments and continues the legal defense of the ACA, the backbone of our health care system.
In their brief, the attorneys general argue that none of the plaintiffs has standing to challenge the individual mandate provision, because the individual plaintiffs are not injured by a provision that now offers a lawful choice between buying insurance and paying a zero-dollar tax.
The coalition further argues the individual mandate remains constitutional and is similar to many other laws Congress has adopted. The brief goes on to state that, even if the individual mandate were unconstitutional, it should be severed from the rest of the ACA because Congress clearly wanted to preserve every provision of the ACA when it reduced the tax amount to zero.
Beshear said that not challenging the ruling would leave Kentucky’s working families who rely on tax credits and employer-sponsored plans unable to afford coverage.
Attorney General Beshear is also fighting to preserve Kentuckians’ access to affordable health care in two other cases.
Beshear and a group of 11 attorneys general sought to invalidate a change in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Association Health Plan Rule that would have allowed individual and small group health plans not to comply with the ACA.
Beshear is involved in the case to help ensure insurance companies cannot discriminate in premiums or in coverage against individual and small business employees based on pre-existing conditions, age or gender. The district court agreed with Beshear’s coalition. The Department of Labor is appealing the decision.
In the third case, Kentucky, 17 other states and the District of Columbia sued to force the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to continue federal payments to insurance companies that reduce monthly insurance premiums for many low- and middle-income families.
The case is currently on hold as insurance companies found an inventive way to collect the payments without charging most families more, but if the funding status changes the attorneys general are prepared to move the case forward.
In a video message Wednesday to Kentuckians, Beshear promised, “I’m going to keep fighting for your health care. I’m going to keep fighting for your family, and we’re going to win.”
To stay up to date on Beshear’s efforts to preserve health care protections for Kentucky families visit,ag.ky.gov/healthcare.