16 states fight Texas law­suit tar­get­ing health over­haul

South Florida Times - - HEALTH - By As­so­ci­ated Press Cal­i­for­nia's At­tor­ney Gen­eral, Xavier Be­cerra

KATH­LEEN RONAYNE

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Six­teen Demo­cratic at­tor­neys gen­eral pushed back Monday against a Texas law­suit aimed at strik­ing down for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama's health care over­haul.

Cal­i­for­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Xavier Be­cerra led 15 other at­tor­neys gen­eral in fil­ing a mo­tion to in­ter­vene in the Texas case and de­fend the law, sug­gest­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion wouldn't take such ac­tion.

“We're tak­ing this ac­tion to pro­tect the health and fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity of mil­lions of peo­ple in our coun­try, as well as bil­lions of dol­lars of fed­eral funds that go to our states to make sure that we can af­ford the health care that our fam­i­lies need,” Be­cerra said at a news con­fer­ence.

The mo­tion sets up a bat­tle be­tween Demo­crat­i­cand Repub­li­can-led states, 19 of which joined the Texas case that was filed in Fe­bru­ary. It ar­gues the Af­ford­able Care Act is no longer valid be­cause of a pro­vi­sion in the Repub­li­can-backed tax over­haul that re­moved the fines for not hav­ing health in­sur­ance.

It also points to a prior ef­fort to dis­man­tle the Af­ford­able Care Act's in­di­vid­ual man­date that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court up­held the man­date, rul­ing it was con­sti­tu­tional un­der the tax­ing power of Congress.

Last year's Repub­li­can-led tax over­haul law re­moved the fi­nan­cial penalty for not pur­chas­ing health in­sur­ance, start­ing in 2019. The Texas law­suit ar­gues that by re­mov­ing the fi­nan­cial penalty, the in­di­vid­ual man­date can no longer be con­sid­ered a tax and is there­fore un­con­sti­tu­tional. “Once the heart of the ACA - the in­di­vid­ual man­date - is de­clared un­con­sti­tu­tional, the re­main­der of the ACA must also fall,”Texas wrote in the suit.

A fact sheet dis­trib­uted by Be­cerra's of­fice didn't specif­i­cally ad­dress the in­di­vid­ual man­date ar­gu­ment, only say­ing that the U.S. Supreme Court has up­held it and “no sig­nif­i­cant al­ter­ation of the law has oc­curred since.”

His of­fice did not im­me­di­ately pro­vide a copy of the full mo­tion to in­ter­vene.

He and the other Democrats ar­gue that strik­ing down the Af­ford­able Care Act would cause “im­me­di­ate and ir­repara­ble harm” to res­i­dents of their states.

Join­ing Be­cerra are at­tor­neys gen­eral from Con­necti­cut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illi­nois, Ken­tucky, Mas­sachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ore­gon, Rhode Is­land, Vir­ginia, Ver­mont, Wash­ing­ton, and the Dis­trict of Columbia.

Join­ing Texas are at­tor­neys gen­eral from Wis­con­sin, Alabama, Arkansas, Ari­zona, Florida, Ge­or­gia, In­di­ana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mis­souri, Ne­braska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Ten­nessee, Utah and West Vir­ginia. Mis­sis­sippi and Maine, which have Demo­cratic at­tor­neys gen­eral, also joined through their Repub­li­can gov­er­nors.

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