LOS ANGELES – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced in Los Angeles Thursday a legal challenge to the proposed elimination of a key element of the Affordable Care Act, which is under threat of repeal by the administration of President Donald Trump.
Becerra and more than a dozen fellow Democratic attorneys general filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit filed in 2014 by House Republicans that threatens to undercut the affordability of health insurance plans under the ACA. The lawsuit is pending before an appeals court in the District of Columbia.
The suit, House v. Price, was filed during President Barack Obama’s administration and challenges the legality of providing billions of dollars in subsidies to insurance companies to lower deductibles and other out-of-pocket health-care costs for people with modest incomes.
Becerra said even the threat of ending such funding could destabilize the healthcare market and increase premiums by as much as 21 percent, according to Becerra.
“No parent should worry if they can afford to take their child to a doctor or hospital,” Becerra said. “President Trump’s unpredictable behavior and lack of defense of the health care coverage of millions of Americans under the ACA threatens to resurrect those fears of every parent.”
In California, since the inception of the ACA, the number of Californians without health insurance has fallen from 17 percent of the population in 2013 to 7.1 percent in 2016. Becerra said the figures represent a historic low.
“Here in California, more than 5 million people now receive quality, affordable health care under the ACA, many for the first time,” the AG said. “No one wants to return to the days when a child was denied care because of a preexisting condition, when a woman was charged more than a man for the same health care plan, when you needed care the most and found you had reached your lifetime limit.”
Attorneys for the House Republicans have been filing motions to delay proceedings in the lawsuit while Congress debates proposals that would repeal the ACA — known as Obamacare — altogether, a move that would render the lawsuit moot.
The Trump Administration and congressional Republicans have identified repealing the ACA as one of their top legislative priorities. The House recently approved a bill repealing most of the legislation but the issue still needs to be debated in the Senate.
Countering one of the key Democratic criticisms of the legislation, Republican leaders have insisted that the House-approved legislation, known as the American Health Care Act, will provide options for people with pre-existing conditions. White House officials said that under the bill, nobody can be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, with $120 billion in funding earmarked for states to cover costs for people with such conditions.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the legislation is a bill that “gives them (Americans) the care that they need, that allows them to go see a doctor, that covers pre-existing conditions and does so in a way that’s not going to be out of range and unaffordable for most Americans.”
Democrats blasted such claims, insisting that millions of people with pre-existing conditions will either lose coverage or be forced to pay unaffordable premiums under the proposal.