State Leaders Try Again to Take Health Care away from Texans

///State Leaders Try Again to Take Health Care away from Texans

Poll after poll shows Texans want lawmakers to focus on improving access to health care — not taking it away. Unfortunately, a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton – the Health Care Repeal lawsuit – would do just that by eliminating the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) with no replacement.

If the Attorney General’s misguided lawsuit ultimately results in eliminating the ACA, it would have devastating effects on Texans and people across the country: 20 million Americans would lose their health care coverage, insurance companies would be allowed to once again discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, and seniors in Medicare would pay more for prescriptions. The Texas Legislature failed to address health coverage this past session and without the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate would skyrocket.

Examples of harm to Texans

  • 1.7 million Texans would lose their health care coverage. The state’s uninsured rate would shoot up by 37 percent.
  • People with a pre-existing condition — like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and asthma — would lose protections. Under the Affordable Care Act, they are assured that they will not be denied coverage, charged more, or face waiting periods due to something in their medical history. More than 1-in-4 Texas adults ages 18-64 would have been denied individual market coverage before the ACA because of a pre-existing condition, and many more would have faced higher premiums or reduced coverage.
  • Texans would lose the guarantee that their health plan will cover preventive services – like flu shots, mammograms and other cancer screenings, and contraception – at no cost to patients. This would harm 10.3 million Texans, most of whom have job-based insurance.
  • 205,000 young adults in Texas who gained coverage by being able to stay on a parent’s plan to age 26 would lose access.
  • Texans would lose a $5 billion/year investment of federal Marketplace subsidies that connect 950,000 low- and moderate-income Texans to coverage.
  • Seniors in Texas would have to pay more for prescription drugs because the Medicare “donut hole” would be reopened. In Texas, 333,500 seniors saved money on drugs in 2016, and from 2010-2016, Texans in Medicare saved $1.8 billion.
  • Insurance companies would once again be able to place lifetime caps on your coverage and charge women more than men.
  • Required coverage of “Essential Health Benefits” – like mental health treatment, prescription drugs, and maternity – would end.
  • Texas would lose the option to accept federal Medicaid expansion funding to cover uninsured, low-wage Texans in the future. This option – so far been rejected by Texas leaders – could cover 1.5 million uninsured Texas adults.

How did we get here?

Once efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in Congress were defeated in 2017, Texas Attorney General Paxton switched tactics and led the effort to invalidate the Affordable Care Act through the courts along with 17 other Republican Attorney Generals and Governors. Over 20 states have taken legal actions to defend the ACA from the legal challenge.

Attorney General Paxton filed suit in February 2018, and in December 2018, a federal district court in Texas sided with him, ruling the entire Affordable Care Act invalid. That ruling was appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which partially affirmed the district court’s ruling in December 2019. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case: a hearing will likely be held in the fall of 2020 with a decision expected before July 2021.

These rulings have not taken effect and will be enforced not while appeals are ongoing. The ACA is still the law of the land.

CPPP along with Families USA, Community Catalyst, the National Health Law Program, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities filed an amicus brief in the case in 2018.

https://twitter.com/SickofitTx/status/1224740365497970688

What Texans and Americans want with respect to health coverage

Attorney General Paxton’s lawsuit that would take health coverage away from 1.7 million Texans and end pre-existing condition protections stands in stark contrast with what Texans and Americans want.

Recent Texas polling from the Episcopal Health Foundation shows:

  • 88 percent of Texans say they think health insurance companies should be required to provide coverage for people who have pre-existing health conditions.
  • 85 percent think increasing access to health insurance should be a “top priority” or “important” for the Texas Legislature (57percent say top priority and another 28 percent say important, but not a top priority).
  • 64 percent of Texans support Medicaid expansion.

In addition, polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation (summary of findings from many polls here) shows that strong majorities across political parties support key Affordable Care Act provisions such as pre-existing condition protections; marketplace subsidies that make coverage more affordable; allowing young adults to stay on a parent’s plan to age 26; preventive health care with no out-of-pocket costs; and coverage of Essential Health Benefits.

It has been ten years since the ACA was enacted. It is now more popular than ever, and at the same time, it hangs in the balance because of the Health Care Repeal lawsuit.

Texans want our leaders to improve access to health care, not take it away. Follow CPPP for updates on this litigation. For ways to get active in support of health care access and coverage follow #SickofTX on Twitter at visit sickofittx.org/

Stacey Pogue joined the center in 2008. She focuses on health policy issues. Before coming to the center, she did health policy and research work with the Medicaid and CHIP Division of the Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of Insurance. In 2010 and 2011, she was selected to serve as a funded Consumer Representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Pogue earned a Bachelor of Science in Geography, summa cum laude, from Texas A&M University in 1997 and a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin in 2005.