Today, the U.S. Supreme Court hears California v. Texas, a lawsuit to determine the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Last week, even as Americans cast more votes for President-elect Biden than any other candidate for President in the history of the nation, COVID-19 cases surged to new levels across the country and across North Carolina, setting new records and putting more people’s health and lives at risk. In the midst of this ongoing global pandemic, we need more healthcare access for more people, not less. But due to the partisan rigging of the courts by President Trump and the GOP-led Senate, the U.S Supreme Court has been stacked with conservative justices in order to push unpopular ideological agendas like overturning the ACA.
Rather than protect and expand healthcare or lower drug prices, conservative lawmakers spent the last four years trying to repeal the ACA, attacking the birth control coverage mandate, and pushing for health insurance companies to return to offering bare bones plans that exclude options such as maternity care and mammograms and treat being born a woman as a pre-existing condition. In the last month before the election, the White House and Senate’s top priority was not COVID-19 relief and recovery, but ramming through the confirmation to the Supreme Court of another right-wing judge who opposes the ACA.
In defiance of past precedence, the legal opinions of experts across the political spectrum who argue this case has no merit, the deadly impact of overturning healthcare coverage for over 20 million people, and the harmful effects of eliminating pre-existing condition protections for 135 million more people, the Supreme Court could refuse to uphold the Affordable Care Act. That decision would have dire consequences for the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who can only access high quality affordable healthcare through the ACA. Conservative leadership in North Carolina refuses to offer meaningful options for healthcare for North Carolinians without employer-sponsored plans, leaving too many vulnerable to a Supreme Court decision that could upend our healthcare system.
Repealing the ACA would throw our healthcare system into chaos: 607,000 North Carolinians would lose coverage—including 70,000 young adults and 96,000 children. At least 4.1 million people in our state have a pre-existing condition, and they would lose protections that guarantee affordable healthcare. Insurance companies would go back to charging women more for healthcare, while also denying pre- and post-natal care, newborn care, and cancer screenings. The state would lose $1.1 billion in federal funding for Medicaid, marketplace subsidies, and children’s health insurance. These are losses we cannot afford, and we cannot afford to lose our health, safety, reproductive freedoms, and right to live free from discrimination, either.
The U.S. Supreme Court must uphold the ACA as the law of the land and put aside partisan politics to act as a neutral arbiter in this case, for the sake of our democracy and our health. Healthcare is a right, and the justices must prioritize sound legal judgement and the well-being of the nation over any political agenda.