Washington, DC – For the last decade, the Affordable Care Act has been a prevailing force for good in this country. Earlier today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case where the Trump administration and a cadre of states are seeking to bring down the Affordable Care Act.
Before the nation’s highest court, President Trump’s Solicitor General argued that access to health care for 20 million people and protections for millions more should hinge on the legality of just one of the ACA’s hundreds of provisions. This is an astonishing argument for the federal government to make. If successful, the repercussions would be catastrophic. In addition to ending the private insurance marketplaces, such a sweeping ruling would end Medicaid expansion that has extended coverage to nearly 15 million low-income individuals.
At its heart, this legal challenge is about what the government’s role should be in the nation’s health. The ACA ensures that millions of people get the care, services, and information they need to be healthy. It guarantees protections for people with preexisting conditions, provides information about food content through nutrition labels, protects against discrimination in health care, and allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health plans during college or early working years. These are just some of the benefits furnished to Americans through the Affordable Care Act.
Today’s arguments were hyper-technical, focusing on legal concepts of standing and severability — a far cry from the lived reality of people whose health hangs in the balance. Luckily, a number of the Justices appeared to be skeptical of the arguments made against the ACA. Rightly so.
No matter the outcome, the team at the National Health Law Program will continue to fight and advocate for the health rights of low-income people.