AARP and AARP Foundation filed an amicus brief on April 1 with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit supporting the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and asking it to reverse the trial court’s December 2018 ruling in Texas v. United States. The brief argues that if the ACA is invalidated, millions of older Americans will be harmed, many will lose their health coverage, and the nation’s health system will be thrown into turmoil.
“AARP vigorously opposes any attempt to dismantle the ACA, which will undoubtedly threaten the health and financial stability of millions of Americans, including older adults, that the law has provided for nearly a decade,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy & engagement officer. “Undermining the ACA will increase out-of-pocket expenses for older Americans by reopening the Part D ‘doughnut hole’ and taking away key consumer protections, including preventing insurers from charging an age tax and guaranteeing coverage for people with preexisting health conditions.”
According to the brief:
The ACA is a lifeline for millions of Americans, including older adults, who rely on it for their health and financial stability. More than nine years after its enactment, the ACA has become an integral part of the nation’s health care system. Among other things, it expands access to quality affordable care, guarantees coverage for people with preexisting conditions, and limits how much more insurers can charge older adults. It strengthens the financial viability of Medicare, lowers Medicare prescription drug costs, and expands Medicaid eligibility.
If this Court finds that the ACA is invalid, millions of older adults will lose the health care coverage and consumer protections they have relied on for years. It will also throw the Medicare and Medicaid programs into fiscal and administrative chaos, which will disrupt the nation’s health care system and economy. It will plunge the more than 100 million people with preexisting conditions into an abyss of uncertainty about whether they can obtain coverage. Finally, it will destroy hard-fought gains, including protections for nursing facility residents and the lowest income seniors who rely on Medicare.
When Congress reduced the tax penalty for not complying with the minimum coverage provision, it did not intend to dismantle the entire ACA. It also did not intend for that reduction to affect any other ACA provision, including those that protect people with preexisting conditions and limit age rating. Instead, Congress limited its actions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to reducing the tax penalty for not complying with the minimum coverage provision to $0.