(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined the entire Senate Democratic caucus in filing an amicus brief defending the Affordable Care Act in the case of California v. Texas (formerly Texas v. Azar). The case, brought by several Republican attorneys general and supported by the Trump administration, is currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court and could result in as many as 133 million Americans losing pre-existing condition protections, soaring prescription drug costs for seniors, and as many as 118,000 Granite Staters losing health care coverage, as New Hampshire and the United States continue to confront the COVID-19 pandemic If the Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, the law’s Medicaid expansion would be invalidated and New Hampshire would lose one of its best tools in combatting the substance use disorder epidemic.
The Senators wrote, “To dismantle the Nation’s health care system at any time would be perilous. To do so during a global pandemic, when millions have lost work and the ACA provides an alternative to employer-based health insurance, would trigger even greater chaos.”
In the brief, Senate Democrats argue that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is constitutional, as the Supreme Court recognized in 2012, and that if the Supreme Court were to find the mandate unconstitutional, the remainder of the Affordable Care Act must remain intact. The lawmakers emphasized that in passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Congress, including members on both sides of the aisle, made clear that it did not intend to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Further, if the Trump administration and Republican states were to succeed in striking down the ACA, there would be devastating, wide-spread consequences for patients, families, and the health care system across the country, particularly as COVID-19 continues to sicken Americans.
The Senators continued, “Invalidating the ACA would profoundly harm those who already face barriers to care, including older Americans, those facing economic hardship, women, and individuals with pre-existing conditions. Such a result would be particularly devastating amidst a health crisis whose most deadly effects have been concentrated among many of these groups.”
In April 2019, Shaheen led all 47 Senate Democrats, including Senator Hassan, on a Senate resolution that would reverse the Department of Justice’s decision to side with a U.S. District Court ruling deeming health care protections relied upon by millions of Americans unconstitutional. The resolution came on the heels of her health care affordability package, which includes three pieces of legislation that would reduce health care costs for patients and expand access to critical medical services. Together, the Marketplace Certainty Act, Improving Health Insurance Affordability Act and Reducing Costs for Out-of-Network Services Act would make essential reforms to the health care law that would help stabilize the marketplace, lower premiums and deductibles for middle-class families and combat escalating out-of-pocket health care costs.
Senator Shaheen has led efforts in the Senate to stabilize the health insurance markets and make health care affordable and accessible for all Americans. She introduced the Marketing and Outreach Restoration to Empower (MORE) Health Education Act with Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Gary Peters (D-MI) to counteract Trump administration sabotage efforts that have slashed health care enrollment advertising and marketing by 90 percent since the President took office. She also introduced the Protecting Americans with Pre-existing Conditions Act with Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to prevent the Trump administration from using federal premium tax credits to promote and incentivize enrollment in “junk plans” that do not provide coverage of pre-existing conditions or essential health benefits.
The full text of the amicus brief is available for download here.