House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urges states to join fight to save ACA
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Democrat attorneys general to join their fight to preserve the Affordable Care Act, as Becerra filed a brief Thursday in a U.S. Supreme Court case that seeks to overturn the health statute.
If the court overturns the law, it would cost the state billions in Medi-Cal reimbursements from the federal government.
ACA was signed into law by former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2010. The Trump administration has chosen not to defend ACA from lawsuits filed by Texas and more than a dozen other Republican states’ attorneys general seeking to overturn it. Becerra said during a media call Thursday he and 17 Democrat attorneys general will defend ACA.
“The ACA is more important than ever,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said in the joint call with Becerra. “Every day, we see how access to the affordable healthcare act is a matter of life and death.”
President Trump “is still in court to overturn ACA and dismantle those benefits,” Pelosi said.
The most “shocking of all” is the section that would add back insurers' ability to drop customers, who have pre-existing conditions, particularly now, because COVID-19 would be considered a pre-existing condition for anyone who has had it, Pelosi said.
She pointed to what she described as the more than 70,000 “tragic deaths,” nationally as a result of COVID-19, and also to the nearly 1.2 million people who have been infected.
This administration zeroed in on eliminating the right of insured Americans to not lose coverage as the result of having a pre-existing condition, Pelosi said.
“What more do you need to know about the character of the administration?” Pelosi asked. “So, on day one, Congress decided to work to defeat the lawsuit to repeal ACA.”
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed March 2 to hear California v. Texas, a lawsuit challenging efforts by Texas and other Republican states to overturn ACA. Oral arguments are expected in the fall and a decision is likely next spring.
California went all-in on ACA, being one of the first states to create a statewide medical exchange providing insurance to the uninsured on a sliding scale. The move greatly expanded the number of people in California that qualified for Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, which provides medical benefits to impoverished people.
Under ACA, states were expected to receive additional money for state Medicaid programs to expand the number of citizens who are insured, which would then be reimbursed by the federal government.
California’s Department of Finance estimated in January the Medi-Cal optional expansion costs in fiscal year 2020-21, which begins July 1, were $20.3 billion, of which $18.1 billion would be federal funds and $2.2 billion would be the state general fund contribution, according to H.D. Palmer, a DOF spokesman.
The associated caseload estimate was 2.8 million in January, but the caseload and dollar estimates will be updated in next Thursday’s May budget revisions, Palmer said.
“Today as we grieve and pray for the millions suffering, I urge the remaining states to join ACA,” Pelosi said.