SALEM, Ore. — Oregon will join a list of other states fighting in favor of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a statement from Governor Brown's office. The move comes after the Trump Administration's Justice Department made the unusual decision not to defend the ACA (still federal law) in court.
A total of 16 states are suing to defend the ACA in spite of the Justice Department's abandonment of the issue.
"We are gravely concerned by the U.S. Department of Justice’s refusal to defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee of health coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions," said the governors in a letter to Attorney General Sessions.
The ACA has been in a tenuous position since Congress passed the Republican tax cut package in December. While Republicans were repeatedly unsuccessful in repealing the ACA outright, and were unable to pass a replacement health care bill, they did manage to strike a potential death blow to the ACA buried within the tax cuts.
CLICK HERE for more background on the case, and how Oregon's Attorney General decided to weigh in.
The "individual mandate" portion of the ACA—which required all Americans to hold health insurance of some kind—was backed up by a tax penalty for Americans who could not provide proof of insurance. Within the Republican tax cut was an elimination of those penalties—rendering the individual mandate hollow and, according to the Trump Justice Department, unconstitutional.
Texas led a coalition of 19 states in filing the original lawsuit against the federal government, arguing that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. With the Justice Department vacating their usual role as defenders of federal law, that defense has fallen to the opposition raised by Oregon and other pro-ACA state governors.
According to the pro-ACA group, it is the largely popular benefits provided by the ACA that are on the line in this case.
"All families deserve access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage. That’s why the American public has overwhelmingly rejected efforts in Congress to return to a time when people would face higher rates, limited benefits, or denials of coverage simply for having widespread health conditions," said the governors.