Today, on the 10th anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law and expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans, Vice President Joe Biden sent a letter to President Trump, State Attorneys General, and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves calling on them the drop the lawsuit against the landmark legislation, which would strip millions of their health insurance and gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions—during a global pandemic. Below is the text of Vice President Biden’s letter:
March 23, 2020
Dear President Trump, State Attorneys General, and Governor
All across this nation, Americans are anxious and afraid about the impact the deadly COVID-19 pandemic is already having on their lives, their families, and their ability to pay their bills. Individuals and families are stepping up to do their part––staying home, taking individual precautions and implementing social distancing, and making donations to support food banks and other vital service providers, all to protect those most at-risk from the virus in our communities. Their level of dedication should be matched by their elected leaders.
At a time of national emergency, which is laying bare the existing vulnerabilities in our public health infrastructure, it is unconscionable that you are continuing to pursue a lawsuit designed to strip millions of Americans of their health insurance and protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the ban on insurers denying coverage or raising premiums due to pre-existing conditions. No American should have the added worry right now that you are in court trying to take away their health care. You are letting partisan rancor and politics threaten the lives of your constituents, and that is a dereliction of your sworn duty. I am therefore calling on each of you to drop your support of litigation to repeal the ACA.
This Monday, March 23, marks 10 years since President Obama signed into law the ACA. It was—and still is—a big deal for our country, because having health insurance isn’t just about being able to access health care when you need it, it’s about the peace of mind that comes from knowing that if your kid gets sick, you will be able to get them the care they need, or that if you have an accident, you won’t have to also worry about how to pay your medical bills. During a public health crisis, it’s part of the assurance that you can seek the treatment you and your loved ones need. I was proud to stand with President Obama every day of our Administration, but no day more so than when he signed the ACA, because of the real security it delivered for every day American families.
Since 2010, 20 million Americans have gained access to health insurance coverage. But the ACA also helps tens of millions more Americans across the country. It is the reason 100 million people with pre-existing conditions—including conditions like asthma and diabetes that make them at higher-risk for adverse health impacts from the—don’t have to worry about being charged more or denied coverage. It is the reason insurance companies can’t tell patients that they’ve hit an annual or lifetime cap on care.
The litigation you are supporting—Texas v. U.S.—jeopardizes every single one of those protections and threatens the peace of mind and access to care for hundreds of millions of Americans. There is no underlying constitutional flaw with the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the Supreme Court twice upheld the constitutionality of the law. The only reason this new case gained traction was because Congressional Republicans decided to amend the law and zero-out the penalty for not being insured, and legal experts from across the ideological spectrum have concluded that this new argument—that this change invalidates the entire law—is legally unsupportable.
The purpose of your suit is to destroy the ACA. Make no mistake: If the ACA did not exist right now, in this public health crisis, tens of millions of people would not have health insurance. 100 million would not have protections for the kind of underlying conditions that make them even more vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19. Insurance companies would be allowed to place caps on care provided to individuals. And if you succeed in killing it next year, you’ll put countless Americans at risk in the next pandemic.
If there was ever a moment to set aside politics, it is now. I have called for making all testing, treatment, and any eventual vaccine free of charge, regardless of whether an individual is insured. That is what is needed to defeat this virus. The last thing we need right now is people avoiding seeking care because they can’t afford it. But people will still have medical needs not directly related to COVID-19, which is why every American needs access to high-quality, affordable health insurance and the pre-existing condition protections that the law guarantees.
You have in your power the ability to make life safer, healthier, and a little bit easier for your constituents. All you have to do is drop your support for this ill-conceived lawsuit, which is even more dangerous and cruel in this moment of national crisis. History will judge all of us by how we respond to this pandemic. The public health imperative we now face is bigger than politics, and it requires all of us to summon the courage to lead and to do what is right for the American people.
47th Vice President of the United States