Tester Demands Administration Reverse Course, Protect Montanans with Pre-Existing Conditions in Budget

Trump budget fully funds lawsuit attacking protections for Montanans with pre-existing conditions

U.S. Senator Jon Tester sent a letter with 46 of his colleagues to President Donald Trump urging him to direct the Department of Justice (DOJ) to protect the law of the land, which provides health care coverage protections for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions.

The Administration’s Fiscal Year 2021 proposed budget continues to fund the DOJ’s efforts in Texas v. United States to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—which protects access to affordable health care for millions of people with pre-existing conditions—while providing no mention of a replacement health plan should the DOJ prevail in court.

“We noted your announcement in the 2020 State of the Union that you would protect patients with pre-existing conditions, and we hoped that priority would be reflected in your Fiscal Year 2021 budget request,” wrote Tester and his colleagues. “Unfortunately, your ‘Budget for America’s Future’ does exactly the opposite… We are disappointed that the ‘Budget for America’s Future’ continues to fund the DOJ’s legally unsound position in Texas v. United States. You could bring peace of mind to millions of Americans tomorrow by simply directing the DOJ to do its job and defend the law of the land instead of arguing against protections for people with pre-existing conditions and against access to affordable health care coverage.”

Last March, the Trump Administration issued an unprecedented statement endorsing a judge’s ruling to strike down the ACA in the Texas v. United States lawsuit. The decision by the Texas judge ruled that the ACA was unconstitutional and must be overturned entirely. Tester called for President Trump to rescind the endorsement on the Senate floor, and blasted the Administration for its decision to back the ruling.

Recently, Senator Tester joined his colleagues in forcing a Senate vote to protect people with pre-existing conditions by rolling back the Trump Administration’s dangerous 1332 waiver rule. The rule, if left in place, would allow states to greenlight substandard, junk insurance plans that don’t fully protect people with pre-existing conditions, don’t cover essential health benefits like prescription drugs and maternity care, and raise costs for families.

Tester and his colleagues also wrote a letter over the summer requesting Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to conduct a comprehensive review on the consequences of dismantling the ACA and assess the impacts of overturning the law on the federal, state, and local levels. The report would also include the number of individuals in each state that would lose their coverage and protections provided by the law, including more than 152,000 Montanans with pre-existing conditions.

Read the full letter from Tester and his colleagues HERE.