Jun 08 2018
Washington – Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in releasing a new letter to President Donald Trump urging him to reverse the administration’s decision to not defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. President Trump promised that people with pre-existing conditions would retain the protections provided to them by our current health care system, but he is yet again choosing to score political points over protecting the health—and the wallets—of the American people. Under the Trump administration’s latest and ultimate act of sabotage, 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions are at risk of being charged more or denied coverage altogether, older Americans could face higher charges due to an “age tax”, and women could be charged more than men for health coverage. In the letter, the Senate Democrats urge the president to put the American people first: reverse the politically-motivated decision not to defend the constitutionality of our current health care system and instead work with Democrats in a bipartisan manner to improve health care for all American families.
“With this decision, the Trump administration has taken their quest to sabotage our health care system to a whole new level,” said Schumer. “Rather than trying to find any way they can to raise rates and harm those with pre-existing conditions, President Trump and Congressional Republicans should be working with Democrats to make health care more affordable. The administration should reverse this decision, and Congressional Republicans should join us in August to focus on lowering costs for the American people.”
The text of the Senate Democrats’ letter can be found below:
Dear President Trump:
We are deeply concerned that you have directed the Justice Department to no longer defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, including its vitally important protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Your decision yesterday to call protections for pre-existing conditions “unconstitutional” directly contradicts the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision, NFIB v. Sebelius. Disturbingly, this also represents another step in your administration’s continuous attacks on the rights of people with pre-existing health conditions and we urge you to reverse this decision.
There are currently as many as 133 million nonelderly Americans with a pre-existing condition – which is more than half of people not on Medicare. Taking this position could render millions of Americans uninsurable or facing higher premiums. Prior to 2014, people with pre-existing conditions often faced higher costs or were denied coverage altogether. Under your administration, Americans have repeatedly faced the prospect of a return to the dark days in which becoming sick could mean an inability to find health insurance, women could be charged more than men, or premiums and medical costs were so high that it sent families into bankruptcy in an effort to cover the payments.
During your presidential campaign, you repeatedly promised that you would retain protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Then you changed your position and supported numerous health care bills that would have gutted these protections and repealed the entire health care act. The bills would have allowed insurers to charge more or deny coverage outright based on a person’s health status, exclude critical benefits, and once again impose annual or lifetime limits on the amount of care a person could receive. Despite the repeated failure of this legislation, your administration remains undeterred in its efforts to eliminate protections for patients with pre-existing conditions and is currently in the process of finalizing a rule to expand “junk insurance.” These plans are allowed to exclude critical types of health care coverage, deny care when a person gets sick, and charge more based on gender or a pre-existing condition. You recently indicated you plan to finalize this rule, despite knowing that not a single group representing patients, physicians, nurses or hospitals is supportive.
Mr. President, it is time to stop the sabotage. We are a country of laws, and the law must be respected, defended and enforced regardless of the person occupying the Oval Office. It is concerning that career Justice Department officials withdrew from the case and were replaced by political appointees as the administration abandoned its defense of the law.
The American public widely supports retaining protections for pre-existing conditions. We implore you to listen to the voices of career Justice Department lawyers, as well as concerned families, patients, doctors and hospitals that want to retain these protections, and start working with Democrats to strengthen our health care system instead of trying to tear it down.
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Charles E. Schumer
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Ron Wyden