Quigley: Kavanaugh could be deciding vote on ACA

The successor to United States Supreme Court Justice Kennedy may determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act, according to Fran Quigley, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Health and Human Rights Clinic Director.

Quigley voiced his concerns that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh could play a major role in cutting the legs out from under the Affordable Care Act.

“This nomination is about whether millions of Americans, including millions of Hoosiers, are going to be able to get the medicines they need,” Quigley told reporters Monday. “Now, the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it has become hugely important in the lives of Hoosiers.”

Under the ACA, insurance companies are unable to deny or drop coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Almost 3 million Hoosiers have pre-existing conditions including diabetes, cancer and asthma. The ACA also serves as the foundation for the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), a Medicaid expansion enabled by the ACA. Quigley said more than 400,000 Hoosiers are dependent on HIP for medical coverage.

However, the Trump administration has said that it will no longer defend the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, nor its limits on how much insurers can charge older customers.

Quigley said Trump seems intent on destroying the ACA through a variety of tactics, which he says appear to be making their way to the courts. One of which is a lawsuit brought by Texas and 19 other states that seeks to strike down the current ACA pre-existing protections. Indiana is a part of that suit.  

“Now, Judge Kavanaugh is going to duck and weave, he’s not going to say his views on the Affordable Care Act in the confirmation process,” Quigley said. “That’s been the case for nominees for many decades now. But if you look at the track record of Judge Kavanaugh, you see the obvious symbols — he is opposed to the Affordable Care Act.

“He’s written that the president can actually refuse to enforce the ACA no matter whether it’s constitutional or not. Overall, he’s remarkably differential to presidential authority in resisting the will of the people expressed by Congress. He’s voted against the ACA mandate of contraception coverage … voted to prevent a 17-year-old girl from accessing an abortion.”

Quigley noted that while the Trump administration has not been effective in its legislative agenda, it has succeeded in appointing federal judges at all levels. He called for U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young to “not hide behind the president’s choice” but rather demand answers from Kavanaugh about whether he will vote to jeopardize millions of Hoosiers.

“And if he doesn’t answer that question or give a satisfactory answer to that question, our senators need to vote to reject that nomination,” he said. “We have people whose health in our state depends on it, we have people whose lives in our state are going to depend on it.”

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