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Attorney General Josh Stein Continues Fight To Protect the Affordable Care Act for North Carolinians

Release date: 5/22/2019

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today filed a brief in Texas v. United States defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the healthcare of hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians. Today’s brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, argues that every provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains valid and the position of the Trump administration, 18 states, and two individuals is legally incorrect and dangerous to our healthcare system.
“Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians depend on the Affordable Care Act for access to health insurance,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I will continue to fight to uphold this law and protect their access to healthcare. For many, it is a matter of life and death.”
The minimum coverage provision of the ACA requires that individuals maintain health insurance or a pay a tax. Congress reduced that tax to zero dollars in December 2017. In February 2018, Texas led a coalition in challenging that the reduction in the tax made the minimum coverage provision of the ACA unconstitutional, and arguing that because this provision could not be severed from the rest of the ACA, the entire ACA must therefore be struck down. In March, the Trump administration filed a brief in support of the Texas-led coalition and the two individual plaintiffs and argued that the entire ACA is now invalid.
Today’s filing from a coalition of 21 attorneys general responds to the plaintiffs’ arguments and continues the legal defense of the ACA. In their brief, the attorneys general argued that the individual mandate remains constitutional and is similar to many other laws that Congress has adopted. The brief further argues that, even if the individual mandate is unconstitutional, it should be severed from the rest of the ACA because Congress clearly wanted to preserve every other provision of the ACA when it reduced the tax amount to zero. Additionally, the attorneys general argue that the two individual plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge the individual mandate provision because they now have a lawful choice between buying insurance and paying a zero-dollar tax.
The ACA is vital for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians’ healthcare. Between 2010 and 2015, more than 550,000 North Carolinians gained health insurance coverage through the ACA. Another 70,000 individuals were able to stay covered on their parents’ insurance. Nearly 5 million North Carolinians benefit from protections against discrimination against pre-existing conditions, and about 1.8 million seniors in North Carolina save more than $1,000 a year on drug prices as a result of the ACA.
Attorney General Stein is joined in filing this brief by the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the opening brief can be found here.

Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484


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