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DSCC QUICK TAKES – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: GOP’S LAWSUIT AGAINST PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS COVERAGE

Oral arguments begin tomorrow in the Republican-led lawsuit against the health care law that would eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions coverage and continue the sabotage of Americans’ health care. Here’s everything you need to know.

WHY IT’S CALLED THE “PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS LAWSUIT.” The bottom line: if this lawsuit prevails, health insurance companies would once again be able to “deny people coverage based on their medical history.”

  • Vox: If the Trump administration’s argument were to prevail, insurers could once again be able to flat-out deny Americans insurance based on their health status. No amount of federal subsidies would protect them. Medicaid expansion would remain, but the private insurance market would no longer guarantee coverage to every American.
  • New York Times: A new Trump administration court challenge is explicitly aiming to remove a central promise of Obamacare — its protections for people with pre-existing health conditions. But it could also make it much harder for any individual to obtain health insurance on the open market.
  • Wall Street Journal: The administration asked the court to halt the ACA’s guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions and to relax limits on how much insurers can charge older people and women.
  • NPR: If that argument prevails in the courts, it would render unconstitutional Obamacare provisions that ban insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions — arguably the most popular component of the 2010 health care law. As many as 130 million adults under age 65 in the U.S. have pre-existing conditions that could result in their not being able to get insurance coverage in the private market, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

EMPLOYER-PROVIDED CARE WOULD BE IMPACTED, TOO. The Wall Street Journal checked out how the lawsuit would impact Americans whose insurance is provided through their employers to confirm the lawsuit’s implications go beyond policies available through public exchanges: “Tens of millions of people who get health insurance through their job could face waiting periods for coverage or find that specific medical conditions aren’t immediately covered.” More from the report:

  • “Anyone who just thinks this is just impacting the 12 to 15 million individuals with individual coverage is wrong,” said Timothy Jost, an emeritus law professor at Washington and Lee University.
  • If the courts toss some ACA provisions linked to the insurance-coverage mandate, elements of the requirements that also apply to employer plans would likely be halted or reversed as well, analysts said.
  • Employers could also opt not to cover a new hire’s specific health problem, like cancer, for up to a year even if they provide them insurance… And when smaller companies shop for insurance, they could be charged more to cover their workers if they have a large number of older or sicker people.

HEALTH CARE EXPERTS, PATIENT GROUPS OPPOSE THE LAWSUIT. Health care experts, patient groups, doctors, hospitals and legal experts strongly oppose the lawsuit because of the “dire consequences for many patients with serious illnesses.”

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society: “Should this case be successful, people with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and any serious or chronic condition are likely to be denied coverage due to their pre-existing conditions or charged such high premiums because of their health status that they will be unable to afford any coverage that may be offered.”

From Vox:

  • Hospitals: “Plaintiffs should not be allowed to get through this Court — repeal of the entire ACA through the backdoor of severability — what they could not get through Congress. And make no mistake: This case is but one of a multi-front battle that Plaintiffs are waging against the ACA.“
  • Doctors: “The outcome that plaintiffs seek would do violence to multiple precepts that guide and limit the exercise of the judicial power.”
  • Insurers: “Plaintiffs may choose to ignore the dramatic and destabilizing consequences of their requested relief, but this Court cannot.”

KAISER HEALTH NEWS: STATES ATTACKING ACA HAVE HIGHEST RATES OF PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS. By attacking pre-existing condition coverage, Attorneys General like Josh Hawley and Patrick Morrisey are putting millions of their own constituents at risk:

  • “Nine of the 11 states with the highest rates of preexisting conditions among adults under 65 have signed onto the lawsuit to strike down the ACA…
  • The state with the highest rate of adults with preexisting conditions is West Virginia — 36 percent of those under age 65. That means that about 1 in 3 of them could have a hard time buying insurance through the individual marketplace without the ACA protections.”

NO SURPRISE: THE LAWSUIT IS VERY UNPOPULAR. Forbes reported on a poll fielded in June that showed “by a 2-to-1 margin, U.S. voters disapprove of the U.S. Justice Department’s decision to support a lawsuit that would eliminate popular protections for patients with preexisting conditions under the Affordable Care Act… 66% of voters disapprove of the Trump Justice Department’s move and nearly half, or 47% of all voters “strongly disapprove.”

EVERY GOP SENATE CANDIDATE SUPPORTS THIS LAWSUIT. Falling in line behind the pre-existing conditions lawsuit is just one part of the Republican’s toxic health care agenda. Take a look:

AZ – Martha McSally: promised Arizonans that she wanted to keep protections in place for 2.8 million Arizonans with a pre-existing conditions. She supports the lawsuit and voted for the GOP health care bill that would also strip those protections.

FL – Rick Scott: his Attorney General signed Florida onto the lawsuit even though 26 percent of Floridians have a pre-existing condition. Self-Serving Scott at first refused to answer questions about the lawsuit before declaring: “We’ve got to reward people for caring for themselves.”

IN – Mike Braun: asked if he supported the lawsuit, former State Representative Braun said “sure, anything that’s going to actually get rid of [the ACA], yes” – which would “rid” protections for 30 percent of Hoosiers with a pre-existing condition. As an Indiana State Rep., Braun supported three initiatives to axe pre-existing conditions coverage.

MI – John James: 28 percent of Michiganders have a pre-existing condition but James touts being “President Trump’s choice for Senate” and will will stand with the president on every single issue – including this lawsuit.

MO – Josh Hawley: is one of the lead Attorneys General on the lawsuit even though nearly 2.5 million Missourians have a pre-existing condition. Newspaper editorial boards have demanded he withdraw the state from the lawsuit but Hawley has refused.

MT – Matt Rosendale: as the insurance superintendent, Rosendale’s job is to focus on Montanans’ health care but he supports the lawsuit and allowed health plans that “have some combination of exclusions for pre-existing conditions, limits on coverage and big gaps in benefits.” One-in-four Montanans has a pre-existing condition.

NE – Deb Fischer: wasted taxpayer time and money falling in line with her party on votes to repeal affordable healthcare. One-in-four Nebraskans has a pre-existing condition.

NV – Dean Heller: the Spineless Senator has caved on his promises to keep coverage for pre-existing conditions for the one-in-four Nevadans who need them but to add insult to injury, he signed onto an empty bill that to recent analysis shows won’t do a thing to protect health care.

ND – Kevin Cramerthrew his support behind this lawsuit and mislead North Dakotans when he said “every Republican proposal that has been advanced has included guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions.” That’s not true but rather than give voters the facts, Cramer threatened to physically remove some constituents who visited his office to talk health care.

OH – Jim Renacci: As a member of Congress, he has voted at least seventeen times to repeal protections for pre-existing conditions coverage.

PA – Lou Barletta: supports the lawsuit and has voted over 30 times to repeal protections for pre-existing conditions coverage.

TN – Marsha Blackburn: 32 percent of Tennesseans have a pre-existing condition but that hasn’t stopped her from supporting the lawsuit and voting over 60 times in the House to repeal protections for pre-existing conditions coverage.

TX – Ted Cruz: “thinks it’s “reasonable” to argue ACA’s preexisting conditions rules are now unconstitutional” but the 27 percent of Texans with a pre-existing condition will likely disagree.

WI – Leah Vukmir: a rubber stamp on the GOP’s most dangerous policies, including their ongoing health care sabotage. Last week, Vice President Pence confirmed Vukmir would be a deciding vote to gut pre-existing conditions protections if elected.

WV — Patrick Morrisey: he signed West Virginia onto the lawsuit even though the state has the highest of pre-existing conditions rate in the country. If his lawsuit is successful, insurers could discriminate against one in three West Virginians.

DON’T BE FOOLED. These candidates know their health care records are toxic and as HuffPost reported over the weekend, they’re now “scrambling to rewrite their records.” Don’t be fooled by their rhetoric on the campaign trail: they’ve shown time and again that they do not support these protections.

MUST READ EDITORIALS. Newspaper editorial boards across the country called out Republicans and their Senate Candidates for trying to strip protections from millions of people:

St. Louis Post Dispatch: “That Hawley has so far refused to relax his opposition to Obamacare is no surprise. A U.S. Senate candidate in need of party backing, he has toed the GOP’s line against sanity on health care. But in the event he is still open to argument, he should consider the devastating impact this suit, if successful, will have on the Missourians he seeks to represent.”

Times Leader: “Sen. Bob Casey is absolutely right, and politicians who disagree owe it to their constituents to explain exactly why it is a good thing to eliminate the requirement, enshrined in the Affordable Care Act, that health insurance policies cannot deny coverage of pre-existing conditions.”

Charleston Gazette-Mail: “…state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, with apparently no direction from his “client,” the state of West Virginia, signed on with a bunch of other states’ officials who are so eager to gut the Affordable Care Act that they would sacrifice their own constituents. He is one of 20 Republican attorneys general and governors behind the lawsuit…One in three West Virginia adults is in danger of losing health care coverage because of this lawsuit. They can thank their Republican officeholders.

Tribune-Star: “More than 1 million Hoosiers under age 65 have pre-existing medical conditions that could subject them to a loss of coverage or high rates without the ACA’s most popular provisions…Indiana should remove itself from the lawsuit calling for the federal courts to strike down the ACA. Instead, the Hoosier state government should pour its energies into helping other states and Congress adapt the health care law, with Indiana as a role model.”

DEM AD WATCH

MO – Claire McCaskill launched a new digital series “30 for 30,” which the Hill reported, “will feature stories from a new Missourian with a pre-existing condition each day for 30 days.”

TN – Phil Bredesen’s new ad, “Complicated,” highlights his record of fighting for better health care for Tennesseans.

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