Early reports indicate the court may uphold the law.
As the conservative-dominated US Supreme Court was hearing arguments Tuesday morning in a case that could strike down the Affordable Care Act, Wisconsin’s most powerful man with a pre-existing condition made a plea to save the landmark healthcare reform law.
“We need to to do everything we can to protect the Affordable Care Act and coverage for the more than 2.4 million Wisconsinites, including yours truly, who have pre-existing conditions,” said Gov. Tony Evers, a cancer survivor, in a panel hosted by Protect Our Care, an organization dedicated to defending the ACA.
The Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative majority, bolstered by outgoing President Donald Trump’s three court appointees, so far seems unlikely to overturn the ACA, a move that could immediately toss hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites and tens of millions of Americans off their health insurance and jeopardize continued coverage for the millions more who have pre-existing conditions.
As many as 224,000 Wisconsinites and 23 million Americans would lose coverage without the ACA, according to the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. A further 2.4 million Wisconsinites and 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions would be at risk of losing insurance, according to Protect Our Care. About 41,000 young adults in Wisconsin would also be ineligible to remain on their parents’ plans, according to Protect Our Care.
Trump, driven by a strange obsession with invalidating former President Barack Obama’s accomplishments, used opposition to the ACA as a litmus test for his judicial appointees. The soon-to-be-former president threw his administration’s support behind a Texas-led lawsuit that would invalidate the law in its entirety.
Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker and ex-Attorney General Brad Schimel had also put Wisconsin’s support into the lawsuit, but Evers and current Attorney General Josh Kaul withdrew from the suit in 2019 shortly after taking office.
Trump and fellow Republican leaders have never proposed a replacement for the law to uphold its incredibly popular provisions such as protection for those with pre-existing conditions, allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, and banning insurance companies from instituting lifetime coverage caps. Instead, Trump and the GOP have offered empty promises to protect people’s health coverage while simultaneously working diligently to undermine those very protections.
“It is inconceivable and physically impossible to say, ‘Let’s get rid of [the ACA] because we want something better or the same,’ without knowing what better or the same means,” Evers said. “It just is wrongheaded.”
Other speakers at the panel included two Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions and a mental health and addiction doctor.
“Please, please, please have mercy,” said the Rev. Dana Kelley, a Milwaukee resident with three potentially disqualifying pre-existing conditions, including COVID-19.
Another, Dustin Klein, a database administrator with the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, said he has hemophilia, a blood disorder that cripples the body’s ability to form blood clots. Klein said he needs treatment every 10 days at a cost of anywhere from $15,000 to $18,000 per treatment. Some hemophiliacs need that costly treatment every three days, Klein said.
Before the ACA’s protection against lifetime coverage caps, many people with hemophilia had to constantly find new insurance providers, Klein said.
“Routinely I would go to summer camp with my fellow hemophiliacs who would meet their lifetime cap on an insurance product every single year,” Klein said, “and have to bounce back and forth from programs like [the Children’s Health Insurance Program] and Medicaid and BadgerCare to be able to supplement their health insurance needs.”
Dr. Mike Miller, an addiction and mental health specialist, said some of the lesser-known provisions in the ACA include doubling funding to community health clinics and expanding coverage for mental health and addiction treatment.
“The ACA was a really important reform,” Miller said. “It’s been successful. The public is in favor of it now.”