Health Care for Missourians Should Not Be a Political Football

Statement by Jen Bersdale, Executive Director of Missouri Health Care for All, on the 5th Circuit Court’s health care ruling

December 19, 2019

On December 18, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided to extend and perpetuate a hyper-partisan, baseless lawsuit that has left millions of Americans worried about their future health care access.

This lawsuit, filed in early 2018 by Attorneys General from 18 states, including current U.S. Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri and now continued by current Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, asks the courts to decide that the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional. Most legal experts, even those who oppose the ACA, believe the whole lawsuit is “baseless.”

Nevertheless, last year, a Texas District Court judge issued a highly biased ruling that the entire law is unconstitutional, using faulty legal reasoning that ignored several critical factors. It was the job of the Appeals Court to uphold or overturn this ruling. Instead, their 2-1 ruling declared that part of the Act is unconstitutional, and remanded the case back to the District Court judge, giving one individual the assignment of determining which (if any) parts of the law should stand and which should not. His ruling will without doubt be immediately appealed.

By prolonging this partisan attack on Americans’ health care, the Circuit Court joins the ranks of partisan players who want to use health care as a political football to help them gain and keep power.

The consequences of this case could be devastating. If the Courts were to overturn the entire ACA, despite unsound legal reasoning, more than 20 million Americans would quickly lose their health coverage. Another 135 million Americans, including 2.5 million Missourians, would once again be thrown to the mercy of insurance companies, who could choose to deny or overcharge for coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

There are two important things people need to understand about this ruling:

  1. Nothing has changed for now. Your health insurance is still valid, and you should continue to pay premiums and seek care. It will be months or years before this case is fully resolved.
  2. This case is nothing but the ongoing partisan attacks on Americans’ health care. Nearly 10 years after the passage of the ACA, politicians like Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt are still putting their own partisan interests ahead of the health care needs of millions of Missourians. It is long past time that those who call themselves “leaders” stop playing political football and start focusing on improving access to health care.

Missouri Health Care for All leaders urge our elected and appointed officials to put aside politics and put the interests and well-being of Missourians first.

Can you help Missouri Health Care for All continue to defend health care for all Missourians? Click here to make a tax-deductible contribution! 

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