California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is ready to defend the Affordable Care Act and protect millions of residents who have benefited from the healthcare reform and now have access to health care not only in California but across the country.
Becerra joined 15 state attorneys generals to file a motion this week to intervene in Texas et al. v. United States et al., a lawsuit filed in a Texas federal district court which seeks to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
“We stand ready to respond to all treats to the Affordable Care Act,” Becerra said in a news conference in Sacramento on Monday (April 9).
Joining Becerra in filing the motion were attorneys generals from Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
According to Becerra, the Texas lawsuit imperils health care coverage and funding for all Americans, particularly more vulnerable groups like seniors, children, and people with chronic medical conditions or disabilities.
Becerra, who is leading the coalition, seeks to enter the lawsuit to vigorously defend the ACA and the millions of families that rely on it for affordable health care.
Becerra said California refuses to go back to the days when people didn’t have access to health care and couldn’t seek treatment because of cost or were denied by insurance companies because of preexisting conditions.
“The Texas lawsuit is based on a dubious legal claim with the sole goal of stripping Americans of their healthcare,” said Becerra. “In California, millions of people receive quality, affordable healthcare under the ACA, many for the first time.”
“In addition, the proponents of the Texas lawsuit want to eliminate the preventive care and prescription drug benefits for working families, seniors and people with disabilities,” Becerra said. “To roll back the clock and risk the health of millions of Americans is irresponsible and dangerous. We can’t and we won’t go back.”
The Texas lawsuit petitioned 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; strip funding from the nation’s public health system, including work to combat the opioid epidemic; and much more.
“The ACA allowed us to make tremendous advances in health care,” said Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association. “It gave people a way to access the care they needed … getting people the right care, in the right time and the right setting.”
Coyle said before the ACA many people would use the emergency rooms and wait until care was so acute that the cost of treating them was more than if they had been able to have access to preventive health care.
“The Texas law is shameful,” said Gayle Batiste, president of SEIU 121RN and Registered Nurse. “It’s another attack to the most vulnerable. … it is plain reckless.”
Becerra said if the ACA were terminated, California would stand to lose $160.2 billion in healthcare for its people.
If this lawsuit succeed, people living in the 16 states that filed the motion to intervene in the lawsuit could lose half a trillion dollars in healthcare funding.
Texas filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Fort Worth on Feb. 28, and was joined by 19 other states. Texas alleges that the ACA is no longer constitutional due to the passage of the Republican tax break bill, passed in December 2017, which zeroed out the penalty payment due under the ACA’s individual mandate for those who could afford to pay for their health insurance but failed to do so.
However, Becerra alleges that the ACA has not been repealed by the bill, and its constitutionality has been upheld by the Supreme Court, and the ACA has survived nearly 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts in Congress since it was passed in 2010.
“It is too important for California,” Becerra said.
Becerra is committed to protecting Californians’ access to affordable healthcare. Late last year, California successfully defended affordable health coverage and stopped the Trump Administration from rolling back rules that aimed to deny women birth control.
Becerra also recently announced the formation of a Healthcare Strike Force within the California Department of Justice to monitor and defend against efforts to undermine the ACA, Medicare and Medicaid, and access to quality, affordable healthcare for all Californians.