AG Jepsen Joins With Colleagues to Protect
Affordable Healthcare for Millions of Americans
16 Attorneys General intervene in pending case to
ensure effective defense of the federal Affordable Care Act
Attorney General George Jepsen announced today that Connecticut has joined with fourteen other states and the District of Columbia in legal action to protect healthcare access for millions of Americans by seeking to intervene in a pending lawsuit that seeks to undercut the affordability of health insurance plans under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The lawsuit, House v. Price, would eliminate the stable funding for cost-sharing subsidies that the ACA created and that enable millions of Americans access to quality healthcare. Experts predict that simply the threat to end this funding could destabilize the healthcare market and increase premiums by as much as 21 percent.
In their motion to intervene in the case, which is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the attorneys general argue that, until recently, states and their residents could rely on the Executive Branch to effectively defend the ACA in this litigation. However, President Donald Trump has made clear that he would abandon the Executive Branch's previous positions in this case and would end funding if he "ever stop[s] wanting to pay the subsidies."
The attorneys general argue that the potential inadequacy of the Trump Administration's representation in the case – made all the more concerning by the regulatory deadlines that state regulators face to review and approve insurer plans for participation on state exchanges – threatens harm to the states, to the health insurance markets they regulate and administer and to the residents who rely on those markets to obtain vital insurance.
"We cannot trust that President Trump and his administration will defend the Affordable Care Act and the millions of people – including many Connecticut residents – who rely on it for their health insurance," Attorney General Jepsen said. "The uncertainty of this case has already had detrimental effects on the healthcare market and, ultimately, it is the states and our residents who will bear the burden of the cost increases that come from eliminating appropriate funding for the ACA. We attorneys general should be given the ability to defend the millions of people who rely on the ACA for their health and well-being, as it is very clear that the Trump Administration will not."
For the 2017 plan year, over 47 percent of Connecticut's exchange members are enrolled in plans that offer subsidies, according to Access Health CT. Two health insurance carriers currently participate in Connecticut's exchange.
According to affidavits from Access Health's CEO and the commissioner of the state Department of Insurance, carriers on Connecticut's exchange have indicated that uncertainty concerning funding and the outcome of House v. Price make it difficult to price their plans and to determine if they will continue to participate in Connecticut' exchange in 2018. In a separate affidavit, EmblemHealth, Inc. – parent company of ConnectiCare, one of Connecticut's exchange carriers – expressed its support for the attorneys general's motion to intervene in House v. Price.
House Republicans sued the Secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama Administration, challenging the legality of the cost-sharing subsidy method passed in the ACA. A district court judge ruled in favor of the House Republicans, but the ruling was stayed pending appeal.
Following the November 2016 election, House Republicans requested that the case be held in suspension in light of the incoming Trump Administration. In February 2017, the Trump Administration joined a motion to continue the suspension. In a separate motion today, the intervening states are asking that the suspension be lifted in order to consider the states' motion to intervene.
In addition to Connecticut, and led by the attorneys general from California and New York, the intervening attorneys general include Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington, and the District of Columbia.
Jaclyn M. Falkowski