CONCORD, N.H. — Health care advocates say the fate of the Affordable Care Act is on the line, as Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court wrapped up Thursday.
President Donald Trump’s nominee would cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court. Marissa Padilla was principal deputy assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration. She said if Coney Barrett is confirmed before the high court hears a case on the ACA on November 10, the law could fall.
And that would have major consequences for New Hampshire.
“Repealing it could threaten coverage for more than 570,000 Granite Staters with pre-existing conditions,” Padilla said. “Repealing the ACA could also kick more than 50,000 Granite Staters who gained coverage through Medicaid expansion off of their health insurance plans.”
The Trump administration has promised to protect people with pre-existing conditions but has not offered a plan to do so. In 2017 Coney Barrett criticized Chief Justice John Roberts’ vote to uphold the ACA.
Right now, the Affordable Care Act allows parents to keep their children on their insurance plan up to age 26. It also outlaws lifetime caps on insurance benefits and mandates women cannot be charged more than men for coverage.
Padilla warns a repeal would free up insurance companies to start refusing to cover prescription drug costs.
“It could also eliminate the consumer protections that prohibit drug companies right now from paying off doctors behind closed doors to influence the kind of drugs that they prescribe to patients,” she said.
The ACA also mandates coverage of treatment and counseling for substance abuse and is considered key in the fight against the opioid crisis.