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Attorney General Ellison defends ACA in Supreme Court

Joins broad coalition in filing opening brief opposite Trump Administration in case that will decide fate of 2.3 million Minnesotans with pre-existing conditions, among others


May 6, 2020 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today joined a coalition of 20 states and the District of Columbia in filing their opening brief at the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against efforts by the Trump Administration, a group of states led by Texas, and others to invalidate the entire ACA. Striking down the ACA would put the healthcare of tens of millions of Americans at risk as the country suffers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this year, the Court granted the request by Attorney General Ellison and the coalition to review a split decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that held the ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional and called into question whether the remaining provisions of the law could still stand. Finding the entire ACA unconstitutional would jeopardize healthcare for Americans with pre-existing conditions — including 2.3 million Minnesotans — critical public-health programs that help fight COVID-19, Medicaid expansion, and subsidies that help working families access care, among many other provisions. It would also allow health insurance companies to deny individuals care or charge more based on their health status.

“Health care is a human right. Period. The ACA isn’t perfect, but it’s helped thousands of Minnesotans get access to high-quality affordable health care and has provided additional coverage and peace of mind for a few million more. Now in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the protections the ACA provides Minnesotans are more urgent than ever. The fact that the Trump Administration is continuing to advocate for striking it down — which would cut millions of people off health care during a pandemic that has already killed more Americans than the Vietnam War — shows the Administration is more concerned with playing politics than protecting people’s lives,” Attorney General Ellison said.

“When the federal government refuses to protect Minnesotans’ health and lives, it’s my duty to step in. It’s why I’ve been part of the coalition defending the ACA from the start and why I’ll use every tool I have to fight for them in the Supreme Court and in every court,” Attorney General Ellison concluded.

Attorney General Ellison voted for the ACA in 2010 when he was a member of Congress. Since then, Congress has voted more than 70 times to repeal the ACA without offering any plan to replace it. Then-Representative Ellison voted against repeal every time it came to a vote.

The lawsuit, which was originally filed by a coalition of states led by Texas and was later supported by the Trump Administration, argued that Congress rendered the ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional when it reduced the penalty for forgoing coverage to $0. They further argued that the rest of the ACA should be held invalid as a result of that change. The coalition that Minnesota has been a part of from the start defended the ACA in its entirety, supported by a bipartisan group of amici including scholars, economists, public health experts, hospital and provider associations, patient groups, counties, cities, and more. While the Fifth Circuit held that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, it sidestepped whether the ACA’s remaining provisions are valid. Earlier this year, Attorney General Ellison and the coalition petitioned the Supreme Court to review the Fifth Circuit decision, which the Court accepted.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Minnesota’s rate of uninsured people fell from 9 percent in 2009 to 6.3 percent in 2017.. This represents more than 250,000 people who have been covered under the ACA who would not otherwise have had access to affordable healthcare. The potential impacts on Minnesotans of striking down the ACA in its entirety are dire:

• More than 2,300,000 Minnesotans with a pre-existing condition are at risk of being charged unaffordable premiums or being denied coverage altogether.

• More than 2,700,000 Minnesotans would lose the federal guarantee of preventive services — such as flu shots and cancer screenings — which are now provided at no extra cost to consumers. This includes more than 1,000,000 Minnesota women ages 15–64 who would lose the guarantee of contraceptive coverage.

• Approximately 212,000 Minnesotans who are enrolled in the Medicaid-expansion population would be at risk of losing their coverage. The ACA provided the authority for Medicaid to cover adults without minor children who are not disabled whose income is less than 133 percent of the poverty level, which means that private insurance is out of range. Prior to the ACA, these individuals received some coverage through various state-funded programs.

• Approximately 82,000 Minnesotans who are enrolled in the Basic Health Program — for people who earn between 133 percent and 200 percent of poverty and do not have employer-provided insurance — would be at risk of losing their coverage.

In filing the brief in defense of the ACA, Attorney General Ellison and the Minnesota Department of Commerce joined California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who led the coalition; the states of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington; the District of Columbia; and the governor of Kentucky. A copy of the brief is available on the website of California Attorney General Becerra.


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