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Attorney General Josh Stein Defends Health Care for North Carolinians in the U.S. Supreme Court

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, May 6, 2020

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court to defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against efforts by the Trump administration and the state of Texas to strike down the entire ACA, putting the health care of tens of millions of Americans at risk.

“The current pandemic makes clear that access to health care is a matter of life or death for millions of North Carolinians,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “The Affordable Care Act protects more than 4 million people with pre-existing conditions from discrimination by insurance companies, expands access to coverage for more than 500,000 North Carolinians, and helps seniors save on drug costs. All of that is at risk. That’s why I am taking the fight to defend people’s access to affordable health care to the United States Supreme Court with this filing.”

The Court agreed to review a recent Fifth Circuit decision that held the ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional and called into question whether the remaining provisions of the law could still stand—jeopardizing Medicaid expansion, critical public health programs that help fight COVID-19, and tax subsidies that help working families access care, among countless others. Critically, this decision threatens health care protections for 133 million Americans with pre-existing condition and would allow health insurance companies to deny individuals care or charge more based on their health status.

The lawsuit, originally filed by a Texas-led coalition of 18 states and supported by the Trump administration, argued that Congress rendered the ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional when it reduced the penalty to $0 and that the rest of the ACA should be held invalid as a result of that change. Attorney General Stein and the coalition defended the ACA in its entirety, supported by a bipartisan group including scholars, economists, public health experts, hospital and provider associations, patient groups, counties, and cities. The Fifth Circuit held that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but declined to further rule on the validity of the ACA’s remaining provisions. In January, Attorney General Stein petitioned the Supreme Court for review to protect Americans’ health care and resolve the uncertainty created by the Fifth Circuit decision.

In today’s filing, the coalition makes clear that patients, doctors, hospitals, employers, workers, states, pharmaceutical companies and more will be negatively impacted if the ACA should fall.

The ACA is vital for millions of North Carolinians’ health care. Between 2010 and 2015, more than 500,000 North Carolinians gained health insurance coverage through the ACA. Another 70,000 individuals were able to stay covered on their parents’ insurance. More than 400,000 working families receive subsidies to afford their insurance. More than 4 million North Carolinians benefit from protections against discrimination against pre-existing conditions, and about 1.8 million seniors in North Carolina save more than $1,100 a year on drug prices as a result of the ACA.

The ACA is also vital to the health care industry. Without the ACA, North Carolina hospitals could lose $22.7 billion over the next 10 years and North Carolina physicians $8.7 billion. The amount of uncompensated care costs in North Carolina would increase by a startling $35 billion over this period, forcing everyone’s health insurance premiums to increase.

Attorney General Stein is joined in filing today’s brief by the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota (by and through its Department of Commerce), Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the Governor of Kentucky.

A copy of the filing is available here.

Contact:
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

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