Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration on Thursday urged the Supreme Court to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The nightly filing came on the same day the government reported that nearly half a million people who lost their health insurance in the midst of the economic shutdown obtained coverage through HealthCare.gov.
The administration’s legal report does not mention coronavirus.
Overall, some 20 million Americans could lose their health coverage, and protections for people with pre-existing health conditions would also be at risk if the court agrees with management in the case, which will not be heard before the drop.
Information about new subscriptions for health coverage comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The figures are partial because they do not include records from states that manage their own health insurance markets. Major states like California and New York are not counted in federal statistics.
An estimated 27 million people may have lost job-based coverage due to layoffs, and it’s unclear what, if anything, they are turning to as an alternative. People who lose employer health care are eligible for a special enrollment period for subsidized plans under Obama-era law. Many may also qualify for Medicaid.
The Trump administration has been criticized for not doing as much as states like California to advertise these readily available endorsements. In response, administration officials say they have updated the HealthCare.gov website to make it easier for consumers to find information about special enrollment periods.
The government’s Thursday report showed that about 487,000 people signed up for HealthCare.gov after losing their job coverage this year. That’s a 46% increase over the same period last year.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized the administration in a tweet around midnight, calling her move “unfathomable cruelty”:
In, Texas, and other conservative states argue that the ACA became essentially unconstitutional after Congress passed a tax law in 2017 that removed the unpopular fines from the law for not having health insurance, but enforced its requirement that virtually everyone Americans have coverage.
After not revoking “Obamacare” in 2017, when Republicans completely controlled Congress, President Trump has put the weight of his administration behind the legal challenge.
If the health insurance requirement is invalidated, “then it necessarily follows that the rest of the ACA must also fall,” Attorney General Noel Francisco wrote Thursday.
The Trump administration’s views on which parts of the ACA could be maintained or replaced if the law is repealed have changed over time. But on legal grounds, he has always supported getting rid of “Obamacare” provisions that prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against people based on their medical history.
However, Trump has repeatedly assured Americans that people with pre-existing conditions would still be protected. Neither the White House nor Republicans in Congress have specified how.