The Affordable Care Act returns to the Supreme Court in the shadow of a pandemic

Today, the Supreme Court will hear the Republican lawsuit to overturn The Affordable Care Act (ACA), ending its protections for 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and ripping health care away from 20 million Americans — all during an intensifying pandemic.

Amid a historic health and economic crisis that has deprived millions of Americans of insurance, Republicans have attacked the health care act relentlessly, despite the U.S. nearing 10 million COVID-19 cases

Ripping away the law — with no replacement — would ultimately pitch almost 23 million people off their insurance, shred protections for people with preexisting conditions, and throw the health care system into chaos.

From The New York Times:

Tens of millions of Americans gained insurance coverage under the law, which includes popular provisions on guaranteed coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, emergency care, prescription drugs and maternity care. Republican state officials, backed by the Trump administration, say that a key provision of the law is unconstitutional, and that this means the whole law must fall.

Republicans face the challenge of the enormous practical effects of striking down the law. Doing so would increase the ranks of the uninsured in the United States by more than 20 million people — a nearly 70 percent increase — according to new estimates from the Urban Institute.

The biggest loss of coverage would be among low-income adults who became eligible for Medicaid under the law after all but a dozen states expanded the program to include them. But millions would also lose private insurance, including young adults whom the law allowed to stay on their parents’ plans until they turned 26 and families whose income was modest enough to qualify for subsidies under the law that help pay their monthly premiums.

Since 2016, Republicans have tried several times to repeal ACA — with no replacement — that millions of Americans and over 1.7 million North Carolinians with pre-existing conditions rely on.

Without those protections, insurers could freely deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or inflate their premiums so much that they dropped coverage.

In addition, flu shots, cancer screenings and other preventive care — including the cost of administering aCOVID-19 vaccine in the future — would no longer be free of charge. Older customers would pay higher insurance rates and most health plans would no longer be required to cover as many types of care, according to health policy specialists.

In striking down the law, Medicaid expansion, which covers 12 million poor people in 33 states, would evaporate and federal subsidies that keep coverage affordable would disappear.

From USA Today:

No matter how bad it gets, however, a dysfunctional Congress probably would not stop the bleeding. Republicans can’t unite around a plan, as they proved in 2017 when they tried and failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act…..The end result would be devastating for millions of people, the health care system and the economy. Our broken political system, however, won’t do a thing to help. 

This year, COVID-19 has taken loved ones and left many scrambling to make ends meet while a powerful few reap record profits off this pandemic. All the while, Republicans continue to try to take away vital health protections from millions —  a goal Trump has had since 2016.

Bottom Line: For the past four years, Republicans have proven time and again that the lives and well-being of their constituents does not matter in their pursuit of power. And when people need the vital health care coverage the most, they would rather invalidate it. 

This underscores — yet again — why millions of Americans turned out in record numbers to pick a new leader. In order for us to heal and pull through this crisis together, we chose a leader that we trust to get the job done, not to leave us behind.

Alanna Joyner

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