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March 26, 2019

ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL FILES BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

Raoul & 20 Attorneys General File Opening Brief in Texas v. U.S.

Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul, along with a coalition of 20 attorneys general, filed an opening brief in Texas v. U.S. defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the health care of tens of millions of Americans.

Raoul’s brief, filed Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, argues that every provision of the ACA remains valid. It also details the harm that declaring the ACA invalid would have on the tens of millions of people who rely on it for access to high-quality, affordable health care, as well as the broader damage that it would do to the nation’s health care system.

“Invalidating any part of the Affordable Care Act would have devastating consequences on some of our most vulnerable populations, particularly children with preexisting conditions, seniors and people who rely on Medicaid for coverage,” Raoul said. “I will continue to fight attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and jeopardize the health and safety of Illinoisans.”

The plaintiffs, two individuals and 18 states led by Texas, filed the lawsuit in February 2018, challenging one provision of the Affordable Care Act: the requirement that individuals maintain health insurance or pay a tax. Texas’ lawsuit came after Congress reduced that tax to zero dollars in December 2017. Opponents of the ACA had attempted and failed to repeal the ACA over 70 times since its instatement. The plaintiffs argued that this change made the minimum coverage provision unconstitutional. They further argued that the rest of the ACA could not be “severed” from that one provision, so the entire Act must be struck down.

On Dec. 14, 2018, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas issued his decision agreeing with the plaintiffs. In response, Illinois and a coalition of attorneys general filed a motion to stay the effect of that decision and to expedite resolution of the case. The District Court granted that motion on Dec. 30, 2018. On Jan. 3, 2019, the coalition continued its legal defense of the ACA and formally filed a notice of appeal, challenging the District Court’s Dec. 14 opinion in the 5th Circuit.

Today’s filing continues the legal defense of the ACA. In their brief, Raoul and the attorneys general argue that the plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge the minimum coverage provision, because the individual plaintiffs are not injured by a provision that now offers a lawful choice between buying insurance and paying a zero-dollar tax. The attorneys general further argue that the state plaintiffs also lack standing, because there is no evidence that the amended provision will require them to spend more money. Lastly, the coalition argues that the District Court wrongly concluded that the minimum coverage provision was unconstitutional, and even if it were there would be no legal basis for also declaring the rest of the ACA invalid – including its provisions expanding Medicaid, reforming Medicare, and providing protections to individuals with preexisting health conditions.

The brief also highlights the consequences of upholding the District Court’s decision, which would wreak havoc on the entire American health care system and risk lives in every state. If affirmed, the District Court’s decision would affect nearly every American, including:

  • 133 million people, including 17 million kids with preexisting medical conditions;
  • Young adults under 26 years of age who are covered under a parent’s health plan;
  • More than 12 million people who received coverage through Medicaid expansion;
  • 12 million seniors who receive a Medicare benefit to afford prescription drugs; and
  • Working families that rely on tax credits and employer-sponsored plans to afford insurance.

Joining Raoul in filing the brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.

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