U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro:  “…every single American with a pre-existing condition [is] at risk of losing their healthcare coverage.”

Washington – Connecticut supporters of the Affordable Care Act and the nation’s health insurers on Friday condemned the Trump administration’s decision against defending the health law from a lawsuit filed by Texas and a coalition of Republican states.

“The Trump administration’s latest attack on the Affordable Care Act puts every single American with a pre-existing condition at risk of losing their healthcare coverage,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District,  in a statement. “We are talking about children born with life-threatening conditions, individuals living with a chronic disease, and many Americans who were able to retire before they were Medicare-eligible because of the ACA.”

The red state lawsuit argues that after  Congress eliminated the penalty for the individual mandate last year, effective in 2019, it destabilized other sections of the law.

That mandate, repealed in the GOP tax bill,  required nearly  all Americans to have health care coverage or face a fine from the Internal Revenue Service.  The Justice Department said it  agrees with Texas and the other states that the individual mandate is now unconstitutional and therefore will not defend other key provisions of the Affordable Care act attacked in the suit.

“It’s not surprising that the president is trying to drive up the rates for sick people,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, noting the Justice Department “routinely” defends U. S. laws when they are challenged in court.

On Friday, America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group representing major health insurers, said it would file an amicus brief that opposes the request by Texas and other states for emergency relief from the ACA  “and provides more detail about the harm that would come to millions of Americans if the request to invalidate the ACA is granted in whole or in part.”

“Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections, such as guaranteed issue and community rating rules that help those with pre-existing conditions,” AHIP said. “Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019.”

Saying the loss of the ACA would result in an economic shock to the state, Connecticut has joined a multi-state lawsuit led by California in opposition to the Texas lawsuit.

In Connecticut’s lawsuit, Ben Barnes, who heads Connecticut’s Office of Policy and Management, said the ACA has brought the state billions of dollars in new resources, helping it expand health care coverage and establish new health programs.

Barnes said a repeal of two key provisions of the ACA — the federal tax credits that help those who qualify purchase insurance and the federal payments to states for expansion of Medicaid –would result in the loss in of about 35,900 jobs across many industries in Connecticut. Barnes also said the dismantling of those provisions would result in a loss of $12.5 billion in federal funds, $39.1 billion in business output, $23.3 billion in gross state production and $748 million in state and local taxes in the five-year period from 2019 to 2023.

The other states that joined Connecticut and California in opposing the legal challenge to the ACA are Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington. The District of Columbia is also a member of the coalition.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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