Tennessee Republicans Watch Obamacare Lawsuit With Mixed Emotions

Leslie Hanson
September 6, 2018

The outcome of this case could be devastating for hundreds of millions of people in the United States-including the more than 133 million adults under age 65 who may have a pre-existing condition.

Eighteen Republican state attorneys general and two GOP governors bringing the suit argue that the law's individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional when Congress lowered the penalty for individuals who don't buy coverage to zero.

The administration's move has left the defense of the Affordable Care Act to a coalition of 17 other attorneys general, led by California Democrat Xavier Becerra.

The consumer protections targeted by the administration are central to Obamacare and transformed the health insurance landscape. While the health law requires coverage for all conditions without extra premiums, the GOP bill would require that insurers sell to people with preexisting conditions, but not that those policies actually cover those conditions. Dozens of conditions are considered pre-existing conditions, including Alzheimer's, arthritis, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, heart disease, kidney disease, mental health conditions (including depression), muscular dystrophy, and sleep apnea, to name a few. Almost as many say insurers should continue to be prohibited from charging more because of pre-existing conditions. But Republicans in particular, while they mostly oppose the health law, are aware that the provisions protecting people with preexisting conditions are by far the most popular part of the ACA. He added it would be "kind of insane" in terms of the implication for the insured and insurers if the court sided with the Republican states and allowed them to put an end to Obamacare. The ACA protections are supported by at least 86 percent of Democrats, 71 of independents and 56 percent of Republicans, the poll found. New federal rules, finalized August 1, allow insurers to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and institute annual and lifetime caps on how much money they are required to spend on covered benefits over the course of a year or the life of a plan.

"Four in 10 Americans (41%) say they are "very worried" that they or a family member will lose coverage if the Supreme Court overturns the ACA's pre-existing condition protections", Kaiser said in releasing the poll.

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The culprit? In a term: health care. Indeed, Democratic candidates across the country have made preserving health care a rallying call and top policy priority.

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence appeared to give Democrats more ammunition, telling reporters that if Republicans do well in the fall midterms, the party would make another attempt to repeal the ACA next year. With Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) replacing John McCain, a critical vote against the GOP's 2017 Obamacare repeal bill, there has been chatter about another potential repeal effort - though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell effectively shot that down on Wednesday. This bill aligns with an emerging trend among some Republican candidates to come out in support of pre-existing conditions protections.

"Short-term, limited-duration insurance is not subject to the requirement to provide essential health benefits and is not subject to the prohibitions on pre-existing condition exclusions or lifetime and annual dollar limits", federal regulators wrote in the rule expanding short-term plans.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. And the ban on excluding pre-existing conditions from coverage meant that insurers can not refuse to pay for treatments because of a policyholder's medical background.

Democratic nominee for Texas Attorney General Justin Nelson, center, and others address supporters of the Affordable Care Act protest during a rally at Burnett Park in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. They say they needed to step forward to protect the health and well-being of their residents. "Congress passes laws, and needs to act". "Once again, opponents of the ACA are seeking to do through the courts what they failed to do in Congress". The Trump Administration has opted not to defend the law's pre-existing condition protections in the case, and a federal district court in Fort Worth, Texas is scheduled to hear arguments on the challenge today.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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