The Department of Justice this week argued that the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down -- even if there is nothing to replace it.
Axios health care reporter Sam Baker writes that the lawsuit will have a "cataclysmic" impact on Americans' health care if it succeeds in gutting the entire health care law, including popular provisions such as the expansion of Medicaid, the banning of discrimination against people with preexisting conditions, and letting young people stay on their parents' health insurance until the age of 26.
An analysis by Bloomberg late last year claimed that more than 20 million Americans have gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, either through the private health insurance exchanges set up by the law or through the expansion of Medicaid.
When it comes to children specifically, the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute has estimated that the number of uninsured children in the United States dropped from 5.9 million in 2013, the year before many of the law's key provisions went into effect, to 3.9 million in 2017. In other words, a return to the pre-Obamacare status quo could put the health care of roughly 2 million children at risk.
In addition to tens of millions of Americans losing their coverage, Baker notes that a total repeal of the law would mean "the FDA would lose the authority to approve an entire class of drugs" and "the federal government would lose a lot of its power to test new payment models -- in fact, the administration is relying on some of those ACA powers as it explores conservative changes to Medicaid."
Baker also writes that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) must be "dancing in the streets" over the DOJ's latest lawsuit, as the Democratic Party won back the House of Representatives during the 2018 midterm elections in large part by campaigning on the Republicans' failed efforts to undermine protections for patients with preexisting conditions.
"This lawsuit already had Republicans in an unpleasant bind," he writes. "Now the administration is doubling down, putting even more people's coverage on the chopping block."