As the Trump administration keeps working to dismantle the health care law that provides coverage for millions of Americans, Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden have joined 45 of their Senate colleagues in introducing a resolution condemning that reckless effort. The senators also demanded the Department of Justice (DOJ) defend existing law in court, and halt its efforts to repeal the health care protections for millions of Americans—including 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions—in the middle of a public health emergency.
“The last thing families need while they’re fighting to stay healthy and keep the lights on amid an ongoing global pandemic is to have their health insurance ripped away,” said Merkley. “All of the Americans who get and recover from COVID-19 are going to have a brand new pre-existing condition, and the Trump administration and their allies in Congress and the states want to make sure insurance companies can use that illness to kick them off insurance. If there’s one thing this pandemic has made crystal clear, it’s that good health care matters. We should build on the strengths of the Affordable Care Act, not scrap it and return to a time when insurance company bureaucrats rationed care to the healthy and wealthy.”
“The Trump administration’s playbook of ‘adding insult to injury’ can add another predictably cruel chapter with this bizarre scheme to yank away health care from millions of Americans during COVID-19,” Wyden said. “Walking hand-in-hand with insurance companies while turning a cold shoulder to families struggling to weather this public health crisis combines incompetence with irrationality. As the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, I am all in with the battle to defend the Affordable Care Act’s provisions protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions.”
The resolution urges DOJ to reverse its position and instead protect the millions of people who rely on the ACA for health care coverage amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected more than 2.5 million Americans and killed more than 125,000.
Last week, the DOJ and a group of Republican Attorneys General submitted a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to invalidate the ACA and pull the rug out from underneath the millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions who depend on the law for health care coverage. If the Supreme Court agrees and overturns the ACA, 340,000 Oregonians could lose coverage, including Oregonians enrolled through Medicaid expansion and those under the of age 26 who have stayed on their parents’ health coverage.
Additionally, the 1.6 million Oregonians who have a pre-existing conditions could once again face annual or lifetime caps, medical underwriting for their insurance coverage, or denials for the care they need. Across the board, the state would lose billions of dollars in federal funds, causing significant job losses and jeopardizing the viability of Oregon’s rural and frontier hospitals. All of this would happen in the midst of a global health and economic crisis that has already impacted health providers across Oregon.