New York Attorney General Letitia James and her Connecticut counterpart William Tong have joined other attorneys general in filing a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review last summer’s decision by an appeals court that ruled the individual mandate aspect of the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional.
The lawsuit, Texas v. United States, was filed in February 2018 by 20 Republican state attorneys general and governors and challenged the constitutionality of the individual mandate after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 ended ACA’s individual mandate penalty beginning in 2019. The plaintiffs argued the mandate was unconstitutional without the penalty, adding that the ACA also needed to be struck down because the mandate was central to its existence.
The Trump administration backed the effort to strike down the mandate via the case. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans ruled 2-1 that the mandate was unconstitutional, but declined to go further on considering ACA’s overall fate.
“The individual mandate is unconstitutional because it can no longer be read as a tax, and there is no other constitutional provision that justifies this exercise of congressional power,” the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling said. “On the severability question, we remand to the district court to provide additional analysis of the provisions of the ACA as they currently exist.”
In seeking the Supreme Court’s input, the attorneys general insisted the Trump administration was using the courts to circumvent congressional support of the ACA.
“The Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for a decade now and despite efforts by President Trump, his administration and Congressional Republicans to take us backwards, we will not strip health coverage away from millions of Americans,” James said.
“Our coalition will continue to fight any effort to kick children off their parents’ health care plans, to rip health coverage away from those with pre-existing conditions, to charge women more for no other reason than being a woman, or to deprive millions of Americans access to quality, affordable health care. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled the ACA was legal, so we will not allow President Trump and his Republican allies to dismantle the ACA, piece-by-piece, after failing to get Congress to do its dirty work.”
“Hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents have access to affordable health care as a result of the ACA,” Tong said. “No one wants to return to the days where insurers discriminated against patients with so-called pre-existing conditions like diabetes, childhood cancer or pregnancy. No one wants thousands of young people, or hundreds of thousands of Medicaid patients kicked off their plans overnight. The consequences in this case are literally life and death for far too many people in Connecticut. I join my colleagues across the nation in urging the Supreme Court to end this uncertainty and resolve this case before the end of its current term.”