2017-05-19 / Local

State intervenes to protect health care for 1.1M Pennsylvanians

Attorney General Shapiro and Governor Wolf take action with 15 other states

For the Review

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Thursday joined 15 other attorneys general in taking legal action to protect health care for millions of Americans, including 1.1 million Pennsylvanians.

Attorney General Shapiro moved to intervene in a lawsuit that was filed by the U.S. House of Representatives over the legality of ongoing cost-sharing payments under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The threat to end this funding could dramatically destabilize the health care market and increase premiums by as much as 21 percent.

In Pennsylvania, officials estimate that eliminating this funding would impact more than 1 million Pennsylvanians’ health insurance policies.

“We took action to preserve and protect the insurance coverage that more than a million Pennsylvanians rely on,” Attorney General Shapiro said.

Governor Tom Wolf publicly expressed his support for the action taken Thursday by Attorney General Shapiro and other attorneys general.

“It’s of vital importance that we continue to protect millions of Pennsylvania families who are now worried about the cost of and access to health care,” Governor Wolf said. “I will continue to fight to save health care access and consumer protections that help protect the health, well-being, and financial security of all Pennsylvanians.”

Millions of Pennsylvanians have benefited from the ACA’s ban on annual and lifetime limits and expanded access to free preventive care services. Under the ACA, 5.4 million Pennsylvanians with pre-existing conditions — half of all Pennsylvanians under age 65 — can no longer be denied coverage or charged higher premiums due to their medical history.

Thursday’s legal action is a motion to Intervene and was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In addition to Attorney General Shapiro, the motion was joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington State and the District of Columbia. The motion was filed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

In the underlying legal case, the U.S. House of Representatives sued the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) during the Obama Administration, challenging the legality of ongoing cost-sharing subsidies under the ACA. A district court judge ruled in favor of the House, but that ruling was appealed in order to protect Americans’ access to health care, and the payments were permitted to continue during the appeal.

“If this attempt to destabilize the health care market succeeds, it would have a devastating impact on Pennsylvania families, our economy and the health care market in our Commonwealth,” added Shapiro.

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