A federal appeals court in New Orleans heard oral arguments this week in a lawsuit that argues the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.
U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, says that removing the law could be a matter of life and death for Alabama residents.
Jones traveled across the state last week to speak with residents and said that many of them voiced concerns about the access to health care.
“I can’t emphasize enough how much this lawsuit would hurt people who rely on health care coverage that was really made possible by this law,” Jones said. “And for people with pre-existing conditions, or who really rely on the coverage for expensive medications and treatment, upholding the law could literally be a life or death matter.”
The lawsuit, filed by 20 state attorney generals, including Alabama, claims the ACA is no longer constitutional after the repeal last year of a provision in the law that requires those who do not have health care coverage must pay a fine.
Jones called the lawsuit “yet another attempt to take healthcare away from folks” and said that if the ACA is struck down, Alabama is one of the states “that has the most to lose.”
Jones said he is concerned that dismantling the ACA could threaten various protections offered by the law, such as protections that ensure people cannot be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition and the bans on lifetime and annual coverage caps.
“We have more than 166,000 Alabamamians that would have their health insurance in jeopardy,” Jones said. “One third of people under the age of 65 in Alabama, more than 942,000 people, have a pre-existing condition and could be denied coverage or be charged more for health care.”
Jones said hopes the court will uphold the law and that he will continue to fight to make it easier, not harder, for people to get the care they need.
Earlier this year, Jones co-sponsored a bill called the States Achieve Medicaid Expansion (SAME) Act, which would ensure the 14 states that have not expanded Medicaid, as allowed under the ACA, are eligible to receive the same level of funding as states that approved an expansion earlier.