On Tuesday, Attorney General Becerra, backed by 19 Democratic state attorneys general, the District of Columbia and the U.S. House of Representatives, presented oral arguments to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and defend the law’s constitutionality. The case, Texas v. United States is the most recent attempt by The Trump administration and their allies to repeal the ACA. The case gained momentum in March when the Trump administration joined the 18 plaintiff states (Maine and Wisconsin later withdrew from the case) in asserting that without the individual mandate tax penalty, the law should be entirely invalidated. Though legal experts from all backgrounds question the reasoning of the Trump administration and these Republican-led states, the case continues to move ahead. Most likely, it will be appealed up to the Supreme Court, marking the third time that the ACA is considered before the nation’s highest court. If you want to dig into the technical details of the case and the arguments, follow Katie Keith’s blog here and Nick Bagley’s analysis here.

Advocates Day of Action

As oral arguments began, Tuesday was a day of action for all of us prepared to defend and uphold the ACA and Medicaid expansion. We will not go back. These coordinated actions across the country were just the beginning of our collective effort to protect our care. Tuesday showed us what we already knew, that people are ready and willing to defend their health care and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Below are some highlights of actions from partners to remind us all of the power of action and what our voices can do together.

<h3><strong>State Highlights</strong></h3>
<li>In Colorado, advocates from <a href=Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI) joined a press call to elevate the damage of invalidating the ACA, highlighting coverage losses for Colorado and all states. Speakers on the call included Laura Packard, a health care advocate with a pre-existing condition and state level legislative health care champions.

  • In Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey stood alongside members of Health Care for All and Community Catalyst to denounce the actions of the Trump administration and fellow plaintiff states seeking to strip Americans of the their health care and put people at risk, especially those living with pre-existing conditions. Patient advocate Diane Pickles shared her story to elevate what is at risk for her family.
  • Advocates from Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) led a series of events throughout the state. Alongside consumer storytellers, advocates joined Senator Bob Casey and others to defend the ACA. They also used the event to lift up a petition opportunity denouncing the lawsuit.
  • In West Virginia, West Virginians for Affordable Health Care (WVHAC) stood outside their AG’s office to protest the state’s role in attempting to strip West Virginians of their health care access. Advocates held a mock trial, defending the people of West Virginia with testimony from four consumers who would be harmed.
  • In Wisconsin, Citizen Action of Wisconsin held a press conference joined by seven lawmakers and multiple media outlets that called for urgent state legislative action to protect Wisconsinites from health care attacks. Speakers made the case for legislation codifying consumer protections in response to the Texas v. US case such as guaranteed coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. Read their press release here.
  • This is far from over

    Despite the frustrating reports in the aftermath of the oral arguments, this is no time to mourn or give up. Rather, it’s a wake up call for all advocates to steady and ready themselves for ongoing federal action to defend the ACA and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. There are a lot of things advocates can do to keep up the drum beat around this attempt to repeal the ACA pursued by the Trump administration and their allies. As we’ve said before, the timing of Texas v. U.S. means that the case could very likely land in the lap of the Supreme Court in June of 2020. We will work to hold all of those involved accountable. Here is are some broad tips to get us started:

    • Make noise and keep the pressure on. States have a lot to lose. Advocates should continue to put pressure on their attorneys general and members of congress by sharing people’s stories and lifting up the consequences of invalidating the law.
    • Hold events during August Recess. Use the time that members are home during August to amplify the risks for people in your state and share stories of those who would be impacted. We will share a recess guide in late July to help you plan and implement a range of activities that meet your capacity.
    • Strengthen protections for people at the state level. The ACA is all of us. At the state level, we can continue to drive legislative changes at the state level to strengthen important provisions of the ACA such as consumer protections for pre-existing conditions and lifetime limits.

    We are only just beginning – but then again – we never stopped. The only thing we know for sure: we will not go back!