Democratic lawmakers push to protect Obamacare on eve of court appeal
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and U.S. Rep. Susan Wild urged health care advocates to speak up against a lawsuit seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act, which would cause millions of Americans to lose health insurance, the Democratic lawmakers said at a news conference Monday at the Lehigh County Government Center.
“The courts have to know where people stand, that’s important,” Casey said. “We often think of courts as some isolated institution that doesn’t feel the weight of public opinion. They do on this, and they will. We’ve got to make sure the courts know what’s at stake for real people."
On Tuesday, an appellate court in New Orleans is scheduled to hear arguments over a Texas ruling that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.
Opponents of the ACA want the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, striking down the Affordable Care Act. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruled in 2018 that the ACA is unconstitutional because Congress eliminated a tax penalty for not having insurance.
President Donald Trump’s administration joined Texas and Republican-led states in supporting O’Connor’s decision. Democratic state attorneys general and the House of Representatives appealed the decision.
Lawmakers and advocates at Monday’s event said people need to be aware of the threats against popular parts of former President Barack Obama’s signature health law, such as preventing insurance companies from denying coverage or raising costs for people with preexisting conditions, expanded Medicaid coverage, and government subsidies that help people purchase insurance plans.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey declined to comment on the lawsuit against Obamacare, but said Republican senators want people with preexisting conditions to have access to quality and affordable health care.
Casey criticized Republican lawmakers , saying they have not pushed back against the Trump administration’s efforts to unravel Obamacare or proposals to cut government health care programs like Medicaid.
“When a Washington politician tells you that funding for Medicaid is ‘unsustainable,' that’s another way of saying, ‘We don’t want to have rich people pay for an important health care program,'" he said.
To keep some protections in place, Wild proposed blocking the administration from making changes that would cause health care premiums to rise. She said if Obamacare is struck down, legislators would have to pass laws to keep its protections in place.
The court is expected to make a decision by the fall.