Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson joined with several other state officials to defend the Affordable Care Act after other states filed to challenge the law’s constitutional merits.
The news breaking in April of Ferguson joining the fight was a minor talking point at the Jefferson County Board of Health meeting June 21.
County health officer Thomas Locke explained to the board that the defense is led by California in lieu of the federal government.
The attack against the ACA revolves around states arguing that, because “Congress eliminated the tax penalty used as enforcement of the individual mandate in December 2017, the entire ACA is no longer constitutional,” according to a press release from Ferguson’s office.
Washington, the District of Columbia and 14 other states filed a motion to intervene in the 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 stated in the press release. “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."
Ferguson’s press release stated that if the ACA is eliminated, Washington citizens would lose an average of $295 per month in federal premium subsidies, and more than 600,000 people enrolled in Apple Health as a part of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion would lose coverage.
“There are no guarantees that the state of Washington and others will prevail in this,” Locke said, adding that the “clock would be set back” another 12 years if those who are suffering from chronic conditions do not have the insurance to cover the cost.
Washington's uninsured rate has dropped by 60 percent since the law went into effect.
“If the ACA is eliminated … 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,” the press release stated.