March 26, 2019

Manchin Condemns Justice Department's Support Of ACA Ruling Against Pre-Existing Conditions Protections

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) condemns the Department of Justice’s decision to support a federal judge’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions, is unconstitutional. That federal court decision, issued by Texas federal Judge Reed O’Connor, concluded that the individual mandate is no longer constitutional after Congress reduced the mandate penalty to zero.  After determining that the individual mandate is “essential” to and in severable from the law, Judge O’Connor found that the entire ACA is invalid. Twenty-one Democratic state attorneys general have filed an appeal to Judge O’Connor’s ruling that the ACA is unconstitutional to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

“I condemn in the strongest terms the Justice Department’s decision to not only yet again refuse to defend millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of West Virginians with pre-existing conditions but go even further and argue against the constitutionality of the entire Affordable Care Act. This will put millions of Americans and tens of thousands of West Virginians at risk of losing their health insurance, including the thousands of West Virginians who gained health insurance through the Medicaid expansion, and thousands more who gained insurance through the state health exchange. This is just plain wrong, and worse than we could have ever imagined. What’s worse is that we have had two bipartisan healthcare fixes on Mitch McConnell’s desk that he refused to bring up to a vote because fixing the Affordable Care Act doesn’t benefit him politically.

“That’s why the Senate must pass my resolution so that the Senate has the opportunity to defend Americans and West Virginians with pre-existing conditions in this inhumane lawsuit. Protecting West Virginians healthcare has always been my top priority and I will continue to fight for every West Virginian to have access to quality, affordable health care,” Senator Manchin said.

If the decision stands, 20 million Americans will be left without the health insurance they rely on. The 133 million Americans and 800,000 West Virginians with a pre-existing condition will be at risk of losing their access to health insurance and millions of families across the country will see health care costs rise. Important pathways for new medicines will also be at risk, further escalating the cost of drugs. If it is allowed to stand, the human costs of this decision will be profound.

In January, Senator Manchin re-introduced a Senate resolution that would authorize Senate Legal Counsel to defend Americans with pre-existing conditions against the Republican Attorneys General lawsuit that would put millions of Americans at risk of losing their insurance. Read the full resolution here.