OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson and a multistate coalition asked a federal court to allow them to intervene in a lawsuit in order to defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA). More than 800,000 Washingtonians depend on the ACA for their health care.
States led by Texas and Wisconsin filed the most recent challenge to the ACA in February. Those states argue that, because Congress eliminated the tax penalty used as enforcement of the individual mandate in December 2017, the entire ACA is no longer constitutional.
Ferguson, 14 states and the District of Columbia filed a motion to intervene in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to defend the ACA.
“Without the Affordable Care Act, hundreds of thousands of low-income Washingtonians could lose access to affordable health care, and many more could face devastating cost increases,” Ferguson said. “We cannot count on the current administration to stand up for them. I am taking this action to defend Washingtonians' access to their health care."
Since the ACA went into effect, Washington’s uninsured rate dropped by 60 percent, and now fewer than 6 percent of Washingtonians are without health insurance.
If the ACA is eliminated, Washingtonians would lose an average of $295 per month in federal premium subsidies, and more than 600,000 people enrolled in Apple Health as part of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion would lose coverage. Insurers would once again be allowed to discriminate based on medical history, and patients would again be subject to annual and lifetime limits to their health benefits.
Ferguson has defended the ACA on multiple occasions, including defending against a previous challenge to the law by the U.S. House of Representatives, and filing a lawsuit to ensure critical funding would continue. Ferguson also filed two “friend of the court” briefs in cases challenging tax credits for low- and middle-income people buying health insurance (Halbig v. Burwell and King v. Burwell).
Assistant Attorney General Jeff Sprung is handling the case for Washington.