Email #313: “Americans will be hurt”

Last Friday, the attorney generals of 18 states filed a joint suit requesting a temporary restraining order and later permanent injunction preventing the Trump administration from halting ACA subsidy payments.

Those attorney generals have the support of their governors, Republicans included. Republican Gov. Sandoval says the President’s stopping payment is “going to hurt kids. It’s going to hurt families. It’s going to hurt individuals. It’s going to hurt people with mental health issues. It’s going to hurt veterans. It’s going to hurt everybody.” The bipartisan National Governors Association agrees: “We are deeply concerned that the administration has declined to continue these payments, further increasing uncertainty for state marketplaces.”

Doctors oppose the President too. The American Medical Association says: “Our patients will ultimately pay the price. We urge Congress to accelerate its efforts to reinstate these payments before further damage is done.” The American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Osteopathic Association, and the American Psychiatric Association are all urging the subsidies to continue too, saying in a group statement: “This action will make it harder for patients to access the care they need. Costs will go up and choices will be restricted.”

Even many Republican law-makers agree. Republican Rep. Reed, co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, says: “It’s only going to get worse as this marketplace continues to destabilize. If we stay where we are and do nothing, I think this is going to be a pox on all of our houses.” Republican Senator Alexander said in August: “Without payment of these cost-sharing reductions, Americans will be hurt.”

You, however, have said nothing. I know many Republicans have argued that the subsidies are unconstitutional because Congress never appropriated money. A lower court agreed, but the appeal has not been settled, and until it is, the ACA and its subsidies remain the law. The Supreme Court has heard three different ACA challenges in the past, and three times it ruled in favor of the ACA. Even Bush-appointed Chief Justice Roberts declared: “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

If the Court rules that the ACA subsidies are unconstitutional, so be it. But until then, they are the law, and the Trump administration has the Constitutional and moral responsibility of continuing them. You and all of Congress have the moral responsibility of passing legislation that stabilizes healthcare for millions of Americans. Since all of the GOP’s attempts to repeal and replace the ACA failed, that means working within the framework of the ACA. It means crossing the aisle and compromising. Cutting off subsidies only harms Americans who need them.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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