Congressman says it makes him ‘sick to know DOJ is leading the fight to undermine the nation’s healthcare’

Congressman Anthony Brindisi, joined by local residents with pre-existing conditions, released a new letter today to the Department of Justice and Attorney General William Barr calling on DOJ to end their support of states’ lawsuit to gut the Affordable Care Act.

In November, the Supreme Court of the United States is set to hear California v. Texas, a case that could result in the loss of the ACA and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Local residents shared their stories of how these protections and the ACA saved their lives and livelihoods.

“Being born with asthma, developing cancer or having diabetes should not send Americans to bankruptcy,” Brindisi said. “The ACA protects people with pre-existing conditions and stops big insurance companies from denying coverage or charging more for people who struggle with disease. These protections are at risk, and I am calling on the administration to start defending these protections instead of undermining them.”

In NY-22, more than 60,000 people rely on the Affordable Care Act for health coverage, nearly 290,000 people have a pre-existing condition, and this lawsuit places their coverage in its crosshairs.

Brindisi was joined by local residents who shared their health care stories.

“The Affordable Care Act and the protections for people with pre-existing conditions like me are so important in my life,” said Utica resident Ann Rushlo. “As a single person, without these protections, the cost of treatment and medication for my illness would be untenable, and my health would likely deteriorate as a result. Congressman Brindisi has always stood up for us, and I am glad he’s here today to call on Washington to stop their attacks on protections that are essential for me.”

“Our patients should not be penalized for being proactive about their health,” said local health care worker Leigh Loughran. “As the future of the ACA becomes more uncertain, people may shy away from this groundbreaking testing. Repealing these protections will result in turning back the clock on healthcare.

“Patients may not seek preventative screenings for fear that they will lose access to affordable care. We will return to the days of waiting to treat the cancer once a patient becomes symptomatic. We will be back to late-stage detection. We will see a rise in cost of care overall. Lives will be lost needlessly.”

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic increases the stakes of the lawsuit, as well. A COVID-19 diagnosis could be considered a pre-existing condition. With more than seven million COVID-19 cases nationwide, the lawsuit, and the Administration’s support for it, could be an added blow to health care in America.

“In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis that has left millions of Americans out of work, it is dangerous to continue this lawsuit, which threatens our health care system and could undermine critical consumer protection,” Brindisi wrote. “Further, every New Yorker who has health coverage benefits from the consumer protections in the ACA, including the current ban stopping insurance companies from discriminating against patients with preexisting conditions or imposing lifetime limits on coverage. About 289,000 of my constituents have some form of preexisting condition, conditions like asthma, diabetes or even having contracted COVID-19. Their health care and financial security could be at risk should the ACA be overturned by the Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court is set to begin oral arguments on the case Nov. 10.

Brindisi’s full letter to Attorney General William Barr is below:

Dear Attorney General Barr: 

I write to urge the Department of Justice to reconsider the Administration’s ongoing legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Department’s support for the plaintiffs’ position in California v. Texas. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis that has left millions of Americans out of work, it is dangerous to continue this lawsuit, which threatens our health care system and could undermine critical consumer protections.

In my Congressional District in Upstate New York, an estimated 63,900 people directly rely on the Affordable Care Act for coverage, including those who receive their health care through New York State’s Medicaid expansion and those who purchase plans on the individual exchange. Further, every New Yorker who has health coverage benefits from the consumer protections in the ACA, including the current ban stopping insurance companies from discriminating against patients with preexisting conditions or imposing lifetime limits on coverage. About 289,000 of my constituents have some form of preexisting condition, conditions like asthma, diabetes, or even having contracted COVID-19. Their health care and financial security could be at risk should the ACA be overturned by the Supreme Court. We cannot go back to a time when big insurance companies had the power to deny health insurance to Americans with pre-existing conditions or charge so much that coverage was essentially impossible to get.

Instead of working to undermine our health care system and overturn the consumers protections in the ACA, the DOJ should instead move to defend this law in federal court. I believe we must work together to fix our health care system and make the changes needed to improve the ACA, not go back to a time when we had no control over our health care and insurers could deny coverage for preexisting conditions. Thank you for your attention to this important issue and I look forward to your response.

By martha

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