Tester on Justice Department Efforts to Repeal Affordable Care Act Amid COVID-19 Crisis: ‘This must stop’

As coronavirus cases increase, Senator demands Trump Administration halt efforts to rip health coverage away from Montanans

As coronavirus cases continue to rise and many impacted families struggle to pay their bills, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is demanding that the Department of Justice (DOJ) terminate their continued efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—a law that provides 20 million Americans with health coverage and protects 152,000 Montanans with pre-existing conditions.

Tester is requesting that Attorney General Barr cease the agency’s support for a lawsuit that would effectively get rid of the health care law during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 alone, more than 43,000 Montanans purchased insurance through health insurance marketplaces created by the ACA with nearly 75 percent of those coming from the state’s rural communities.

“In spite of the ongoing pandemic that has claimed sixteen lives in Montana and tens of thousands more nationwide, the DOJ continues to play politics with Americans’ health care,” wrote Tester in a letter to Barr. “…Should the [ACA] be struck down, our nation’s already complex health care system would be imperiled in the midst of a global health crisis. The nation has already been brought to its knees by the COVID-19 pandemic. This would have disastrous outcomes for our entire country.”

Last year, the Trump Administration went against Congressional intent by issuing a statement endorsing a judge’s ruling in the Texas v. U.S. lawsuit—a move that Tester strongly opposed. The decision deemed the individual mandate provision of the ACA unconstitutional thus striking down the health care law entirely. DOJ attorneys continue to argue that the entire ACA must be dismantled in the ongoing litigation, which could have disastrous effects on health care coverage for individuals across the Treasure State in the midst of the global health crisis.

If upheld, the ruling risks critical aspects of the American health care system, 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 Medicare “donut hole,” and the guarantee that children can stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26. The ruling would also nullify the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, which provides 81,000 Montanans with health insurance coverage.

Tester has been working tirelessly to ensure that Montanans have the tools they need to access health care amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He successfully fought to ensure that coronavirus testing is free regardless of health care coverage, and he recently urged the Federal Communications Commission to quickly approve $200 million in funding for telehealth services during the crisis.

Read the full text of Tester’s letter to Attorney General Barr HERE.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak.