California through Attorney General Xavier Becerra continues to lead multistate coalition defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) popularly known as Obamacare and the health of millions of Americans.
The multistate coalition is contesting a district court ruling that the healthcare law is unconstitutional. Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that Obamacare is no longer valid because Congress repealed the individual mandate, a penalty or tax on those who do not have health insurance.
Congress’ only changed the amount of the alternative tax to zero
On Monday, Becerra and his fellow Attorneys General from Democratic states filed an opening briefing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth District. They argued that Obamacare remains valid even if Congress amended the individual mandate.
According to them, that provision of the healthcare law is “offering a choice between buying insurance and paying a tax” and when Congress amended that provision, “the only change it made was to reduce the amount of the alternative tax to zero.” The amendment only means that Americans “may freely choose between having health insurance and not having health insurance, without paying any tax if they make the latter choice.”
In their brief, the multistate coalition stressed that declaring Obamacare will cause life-threatening harms to tens of millions of people who depend on it to have access to high-quality, affordable care. They also emphasized that such ruling will cause a huge damage to the nation’s healthcare system.
In a statement, Becerra said, “This lawsuit is as dangerous as it is reckless. It threatens the healthcare of tens of millions of Americans across the country – from California to Kentucky and all the way to Maine.”
“The Affordable Care Act is an integral part of our healthcare system. For the last nine years, it has ensured that seniors, young adults, women, children and working families have access to high-quality affordable care. It has prevented insurance companies from discriminating against 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. Because no American should fear losing healthcare, we will defend the ACA every step of the way,” he added.
DOJ sides with Texas district court ruling
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit indicating that it is siding with the Texas court ruling that Obamacare is invalid.
“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgement should be affirmed,” the DOJ wrote in its letter to the Appeals Court.