Health Reform WK-EDGE State Attorney Generals argue Congress intended ACA to continue
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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

State Attorney Generals argue Congress intended ACA to continue

By Cathleen Calhoun, J.D.

Congress reduced the tax penalty amount to zero in the ACA, but what does that say about intent?

In defense of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L 148-111), Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, along with 19 other states and the District of Columbia, have filed a response in Texas v. U.S. —the case decided in December 2018 that ruled that the tax bill passed by Congress in December 2017 rendered the entire ACA unconstitutional. A stay was granted in the case, stopping the immediate enforcement of the ruling and allowing for appeals. Raoul and other attorney generals argue in their response that all provisions of the ACA remain valid even with the reduction of the tax penalty to zero. "Invalidating any part of the Affordable Care Act would have devastating consequences for some of our most vulnerable populations, particularly children with preexisting conditions, seniors and people who rely on Medicaid for coverage," Raoul said.

Arguments. According to the release issued by the office of Illinois Attorney General Raoul, the response sets out specific arguments against the repeal of the entire ACA and against the ruling:

  • the plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge the individual mandate provision—the individual plaintiffs are not injured by a provision that gives the choice between buying insurance and paying a zero-dollar tax.
  • the individual mandate is like many other laws that Congress has adopted and remains constitutional.
  • even if the individual mandate is unconstitutional, it should be severed from the rest of the ACA, because Congress wanted to keep all the other provisions of the ACA when it reduced the tax amount to zero.
  • the implementation of the ruling in Texas v. U.S. would wreak havoc on the entire American health care system and risk lives.

Attorney generals joining. In filing the brief, the attorney general of the District of Columbia and of the attorney generals of the following states joined Illinois Attorney General Raoul: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.

Attorneys: Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul

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