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ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING STEPPING IN TO DEFEND THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AND VIRGINIANS’ HEALTHCARE

~Since the President and Attorney General have abandoned defense of the ACA, Herring and his colleagues are stepping in to protect accessible, affordable healthcare and Virginians with preexisting conditions~

RICHMOND (June 8, 2018) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring and a coalition of 16 state attorneys general will be defending the Affordable Care Act and the American healthcare system now that President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have announced they will abandon defense of the ACA in the pending lawsuit Texas v. United States.  The Texas-led lawsuit, which now has the support of the U.S. Department of Justice, would end the ACA, threatening healthcare coverage for 20 million Americans, stripping protections from those with preexisting conditions, and ending billions of dollars in funding for critical healthcare programs and services nationwide. Attorney General Herring has joined this lawsuit to protect Virginians who benefit from the ACA, including Virginians with preexisting conditions and those who would suffer reduced access and increased premiums should this lawsuit succeed.

“It cannot be overstated how reckless, cruel, and dangerous this politically motivated lawsuit is,” said Attorney General Herring. “In seeking to strike down the entire ACA, these plaintiffs are playing games with the lives and financial well-being of millions of Americans and Virginians. Unfortunately, they now have powerful allies in President Trump and Attorney General Sessions. I will do everything I can to protect the progress we have made under the Affordable Care Act, including the life-changing Medicaid expansion that Governor Northam signed into law just yesterday. I will continue to fight to make sure that politics do not stand in the way of Virginians receiving high-quality, affordable healthcare.”

As part of their defense of the ACA, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues filed a brief yesterday in opposition to the Texas lawsuit, which seeks to end the ACA based on a far-fetched legal theory that the recently passed Republican tax bill rendered the ACA unconstitutional. Instead, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues argue that the Court should reject the request to strike down the ACA because it remains lawful, constitutional, and of vital importance to the health and well-being of Americans.

Since the ACA was implemented in 2009, Virginia’s uninsured rate has dropped from 16.4% to 12.4%, and the recently enacted Medicaid expansion is expected to drive it down even further.

If successful, Texas’ lawsuit would harm Virginia by:

  • Halting Medicaid expansion, which was signed into law in Virginia just yesterday with the goal of covering an additional 400,000 Virginians;

  • Allowing insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charge them more;

  • Allowing insurance companies to discriminate against women by charging them higher premiums;

  • Taking away seniors’ prescription drug discounts;

  • Ending $1.15 billion in tax credits that helped 335,000 Virginians afford insurance in 2017 alone;

  • Ending the healthcare exchange where more than 410,000 Virginians purchased their healthcare in 2017;

  • Stripping funding from our nation’s public health system, including work to combat the opioid epidemic; and

  • Ending billions in federal aid for healthcare, including $458 million in FY 2019 and $1.9 billion in FY 2020.

 In total, Americans living in the states that successfully intervened could lose half a trillion dollars in healthcare funding.

Attorney General Herring and his colleagues were allowed to join this case as defendants on May 16, 2018, meaning that the states can defend the ACA in place of President Trump and Attorney General Sessions, and can appeal any adverse ruling that threatens Virginians’ access to healthcare.

Joining Attorney General Herring in defending the ACA and filing the motion opposing Texas lawsuit are the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota by and through its Department of Commerce, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

Attorney General Herring previously defended the healthcare rights of Virginians by leading a multistate coalition in the Fourth Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States in the cases of King v. Sebelius. He intervened to defend "cost sharing reduction payments" that more than 220,000 Virginians rely on to afford healthcare, and successfully sued to block President Trump’s attempts to end the no-cost contraception benefit created by the ACA.

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