WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined the entire Senate Democratic caucus 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 is currently pending before the Supreme Court and represents a direct threat to the Affordable Care Act and health care coverage for hundreds of millions of Americans.
In the brief, the senators 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 made clear with a bipartisan vote 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.
If the Republican effort to sabotage Americans’ health care succeeds, 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.
“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.
The full amicus brief can be read here.