WI Joins the Fight To Save Health Reform

WI Joins the Fight To Save Health Reform


By Jessica VanEgeren

May 15, 2020

Attorney General filed an amicus brief Wednesday in support of the ACA with Supreme Court. 

In the course of one year, Wisconsin went from challenging the Affordable Care Act in a case before the Supreme Court of the United States to now arguing in its favor.

On Wednesday, Democratic Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, with the backing of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, filed an amicus brief in support of the Affordable Care Act with the Supreme Court of the United States.  

Both Kaul and Evers defeated Republican incumbent predecessors in the November 2018 election. The changing of the political guard meant Wisconsin, a state that had joined  20 other GOP-controlled states in filing a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the 10-year-old Affordable Care Act, was now shifting course.

“One of the big issues in my race against Brad Schimel and Gov. Evers’ race against former Gov. Scott Walker was Wisconsin’s decision to join Texas in leading the charge in challenging the Affordable Care Act,” Kaul said. “We were both critical of our predecessors’ decisions to get the state involved in that case.”

Wisconsin joined Maryland, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania in submitting the new brief. 

Kaul said the Affordable Care Act is beneficial because it has reduced the number of uninsured residents across the country, prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and guarantees young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26.  

It is especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemi, Kaul said, as thousands of Wisconsinites are losing their jobs and employer-supplied insurance coverage.

“This is a time that we need to make sure if people need access to healthcare they can get it,” Kaul said. “And we need to make sure we are protecting people’s financial security. The Affordable Care Act does both of those things.”

In Wisconsin, the impact of an ACA repeal would be severe, according to an analysis by Protect Our Care. At least 153,000 Wisconsinites, including 28,000 children and 41,000 young adults, would lose coverage.  Another 2.4 million Wisconsinites would be at risk of losing coverage or paying greatly inflated costs due to pre-existing conditions.

Zena Blom is among them. 

A resident of rural southeast Wisconsin, Blom said she began to suffer with health problems in 2016. By June of that year she could no longer work. She was able to receive the medical care she needed through her husband’s insurance. But when he lost his job several months later, they also lost their insurance. 

She said supplemental insurance through COBRA was too expensive, and they earned $20 too much from unemployment insurance to qualify for state-funded insurance through the BadgerCare program. 

That’s when they tried the health care exchange created by the Affordable Care Act. Without that as an option, she would not have been able to purchase medications or continue to see her healthcare providers, she said.

“Having to decide between paying your mortgage or taking life-saving medications is really not OK in America. That should not be a choice we have to make,” Blom said. “I gave up doctors’ appointments because I couldn’t afford to go. I just couldn’t.”

Blom now lives with the worry that she could again be forced to choose between her mortgage or medications if the Supreme Court rules the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. Living with that looming uncertainty is stressful, she said.

She said she would like to ask legislators and President Trump who are trying to strike down the Affordable Care Act why they don’t care about their fellow Americans. 

“I think it is unfair and unjust for them to treat their fellow Americans in such a way,” Blom said. “We are only as strong as our weakest link. Right now they’re not showing that they care. And that concerns me.” 

The Court announced March 2 it will hear a third challenge to the groundbreaking 2010 healthcare law, this time in an appeal brought by Democratic-controlled states fighting to overturn a lower court decision that ruled the ACA was unconstitutional. 

The court’s review is expected to come in its fall term, starting in October, meaning a decision will not be issued prior to the November election. 


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