WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) joined the entire Senate Democratic caucus today in filing an amicus brief in the case of California v. Texas (formerly Texas v. Azar), the case brought by several Republican Attorneys General and the Trump Administration, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court and represents a direct threat to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and health care coverage for hundreds of millions of Americans.
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 emphasize 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. Furthermore, if the Trump Administration and Republican states were to succeed in striking down the ACA, there would be terrible, wide-spread consequences for patients, families, and the health care system across the country—especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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,” the lawmakers write in the brief.
Were Republicans to succeed in sabotaging Americans’ health care, the pre-existing condition protections more than 100 million Americans rely on would be eliminated. Many Americans would be forced to pay sky-high costs for worse care. Approximately 20 million Americans would lose their health insurance in the first year alone. Premiums would increase for millions more, and prescription drug costs would skyrocket—particularly for millions of seniors—while drug companies profit. In Maryland, the Center for American Progress estimates that there are approximately 2.6 million non-elderly Marylanders with a preexisting condition, 320,000 of whom are children. Repealing the ACA would allow insurers to discriminate against these people. In addition, 306,000 low-income working Marylanders would lose access to health care coverage through Medicaid.
“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,” write the lawmakers.
Senate Democrats’ amicus brief can be read here.