ACA backers reiterate warning of threat to health law

    "Life is a pre-existing condition. Keep America covered!!" Feb. 2017 rally in support of the Affordable Care Act, at The White House, by Ted Eytan Washington, DC USA (CC BY-SA 2.0)

    On a day marked by developments in two Affordable Care Act lawsuits before the Supreme Court, backers of former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare plan renewed their call to stop litigation that could crash the 10-year-old law.

    On Wednesday, lawyers argued in the high court over a Trump administration rule allowing employers claiming religious grounds to opt out of the ACA provision providing birth control at no cost to women. Wednesday was also the filing date for lawyers defending the ACA in a Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the act in its entirety.

    Attorney General Josh Kaul
    Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul

    Early after the start of his term in 2019, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul pulled the state out of the Texas suit, which had been brought by Republican state attorneys general from around the country and has since been endorsed by the Trump administration. He joined a press call on Wednesday organized by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin warning of the outcome if the high court sides with the plaintiffs.

    “If this suit is successful, millions of Americans will lose access to health insurance coverage,” said Kaul. The COVID-19 pandemic, he added, has made the threat even greater, while Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid under the ACA has been rejected by Republican leaders who hold the majority in the state Legislature.

    “We need more resources for our medical system, and it’s one of the reasons why expanding Medicaid now is critical for the state of Wisconsin,” said Kaul. “Frankly, I think it’s very troubling that this suit is going forward during a pandemic.”

    Among the key ACA provisions threatened by the Texas lawsuit are protections against being denied coverage because of a preexisting medical condition.

    “For me this really hits home,” said Wisconsin resident Noah Reif, who has Type 1 diabetes, is immunocompromised and took part in Wednesday’s press call. “I know what it’s like to ration insulin,” Reif added. “Now we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, and health care coverage for people like me is more important than ever.”

    Erik Gunn
    Senior Reporter Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, along with related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.