Michigan could see a 115 percent increase in the uninsured rate if the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle the Obama-era Affordable Care Act fully succeeds.
State Attorney General Dana Nessel and Diane Byrum, state director of Protect Our Care Michigan, both cited that statistic in separate teleconferences about how the U.S. Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit’s 2-1 recent ruling striking down Obamacare’s insurance mandate affects Michigan.
“To say that our residents are deeply concerned is an understatement,” Nessel said. “They’re terrified. They’re absolutely terrified in the event the ACA is repealed completely.”
The appellate court sent the case, Texas et al. v. United States, back to U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor to determine if other parts of the federal health care law can stand without the mandate. O’Connor struck down the entire law nearly a year ago, holding the individual mandate could not be severed from the rest of the ACA because it was “the keystone” of the law.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who joined Nessel on the conference call and who led 21 states intervening in the case to preserve the ACA, said the court’s decision represents a “roadblock for Americans” who want to secure affordable health care and leaves people in a state of uncertainty.
“What’s troubling,” he said, “is the lower court tried to do what (President) Donald Trump has been asking—that we explode the entire Affordable Care Act . . . While the appellate court didn’t explode the Affordable Care Act, it certainly laid in place the time bomb by sending it back to the District Court.”
Becerra said his state is ready to seek an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
ACA supporters argue the appellate decision guts protections for preexisting conditions—more than 4 million people in Michigan fit that category—and that health care costs would skyrocket. Support for hospitals would disappear and would be on the hook for $1.9 billion more in uncompensated health care costs.
“I just can’t imagine a more cruel and cold-hearted and devastating impact to our state residents,” Nessel said.
Byrum, a Democrat, said full repeal would reduce federal Medicare in marketplace subsidies by nearly 40 percent, or $5.2 billion, in the first year. She said it also would give insurance companies the opportunity “to charge as much as they want, cover as little as they want and drop you from your policy without cause or notice.”
“Every sector of our health care and economy will be impacted,” she said. “. . . President Trump and Republicans are 100 percent responsible for this assault on American health care and they own the consequences.”
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who participated in the Nessel teleconference call, expressed a different opinion, saying, “It has nothing to do with the president.” Rather, he noted, it’s about the people for whom health care should be a basic human right.
Appellate Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007, and Trump’s 2018 appointee, Judge Kurt Engelhardt, joined the ruling while President Jimmy Carter’s 1979 appointee, Carolyn Dineen King, dissented.
“When it comes to analyzing the statute’s text and historical context . . . we are just as competent as the district court,” King wrote. “There is thus no reason to prolong the uncertainty this litigation has caused to the future of this indubitably significant statute.”
This story courtesy of MIRS, a Lansing-based news and information service.