Tester Slams Administration’s Move to Eliminate Entire Health Care Law, Including Preexisting Conditions Protections, Medicaid Expansion

Senator: “This is more than just a dereliction of duty—it’s a slap in the face to our democracy”

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester issued a scathing rebuke today of the Trump Administration’s latest statement that endorsed the ruling of a Texas judge to scrap the entirety of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since last June, the Department of Justice has refused to defend the provision of the ACA that protects people with preexisting conditions. But today the Administration went one step further by declaring a statement in full support of overturning the ACA in its entirety – ripping health care away from tens of millions of Americans.

“This is more than just a dereliction of duty—it’s a slap in the face to our democracy. The Affordable Care Act was passed by majorities in the House and Senate, upheld by the Supreme Court, and continues to be supported by folks on both sides of the aisle. The seemingly endless attempts to repeal it have failed, time and again, under both Republican and Democratic leadership. Yet this Administration attempted to deal a final blow by invalidating all the protections we enshrined into law—including Medicaid expansion and coverage for preexisting conditions—that are providing life-saving and affordable health care to folks across this country.”

Last June, the Department of Justice announced it would not only abandon its obligation to defend standing law but also argued that the provision that prohibits insurance companies from withholding health care coverage or charging people astronomical rates because of preexisting conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, acne, and even pregnancy should be overturned. In December, an activist judge ruled that these protections—along with the rest of the Affordable Care Act—were unconstitutional.

The decision puts many critical parts of the American health care system at risk, including mandatory coverage of essential health benefits, a prohibition on lifetime and annual caps of coverage, prescription drug coverage for millions of seniors due to the re-opening of the donut hole, and the guarantee that children can stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26. On Monday, the Department of Justice—whose job it is to defend the laws of the United States – told the court it would not defend any parts of the law.

That’s why Tester has helped introduce legislation to allow the Senate to defend these protections in court. Tester’s legislation, which he also helped introduce last Congress, would authorize Senate Legal Counsel to intervene in the lawsuit and defend the hundreds of thousands of Montanans who rely the Affordable Care Act to access insurance.

In addition to the resolution, Tester has introduced a number of bills to protect Montanans with preexisting conditions, expand access to health care, and lower the cost of prescription drugs.

Watch Tester’s impassioned defense of the 152,000 Montanans with preexisting conditions HERE.