On Tuesday (July 9), oral arguments begin in a case that could result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance. And as a three-judge panel at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans listens, a contingent of Americans—from youth advocates to physicians—are making their voices heard in support of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The lawsuit at the heart of Texas v. United States was filed February 2018 by two Republican governors and five Republic attorneys general against the federal government. “A question at the heart of the case is whether the Affordable Care Act’s mandate requiring most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty remained constitutional after Congress eliminated the penalty as part of the tax overhaul that Mr. Trump signed in 2017,” reports The New York Times.
If the mandate is deemed unconstitutional, it leaves open the question of whether the rest of the ACA can function without it. In December, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court in Fort Worth, Texas said it could not and that the entire law must be dismantled. The appeals court hearing will now decide if O’Connor’s decision should be overturned.
Without the ACA, there would be an increase of almost 20 million people without insurance, according to Urban Institute. An additional estimated 52 million adults ages 18 to 64 could be denied coverage that they now qualify for if ACA provisions such as the mandate that people with pre-existing conditions be insured are revoked. There also would not be a cap for out-of-pocket medical costs that insured Americans would have to pay. Since the ACA was put into effect in 2014, Black and Latinx Americans have had the greatest decrease in the number of people who are uninsured.
The fight to save the ACA is led by many groups, including the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA), which today announced a rollout of digital and print ads focused on the attorneys general who filed the lawsuit.
“President Trump may call the GOP ‘the party of health care,’ but the truth is these Republican AGs are in court this week trying to sabotage health care coverage for millions of Americans,” Farah Melendez, political director for DAGA said in an emailed statement. “These health care hypocrites are attacking the critical care people in their states rely on to go to the doctor, afford prescription medication, and take care of sick kids and family members.”
Health Care for America Now and Physicians’ for Reproductive Health are asking Americans to share their stories about how their lives will be upturned if the ACA is repealed, both online and in public rallies. And other organizations are using social media to speak up.
Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit that fights for the rights of youth globally, have also stepped into the fight. “It is the height of irresponsibility to rob millions of young people of the health coverage they need. The ACA goes a long way toward affording young people the opportunity to take care of their health and plan their futures. The Fifth Circuit must overturn this decision and uphold medical best practices, common sense, and basic human decency,” Debra Hauser, president of the organization, said in an emailed statement.