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« New Black Women’s Health Policy Agenda! | Main | Get ready for post-Labor Day advocacy! »

SCOTUS nominee a threat to ACA protections, Roe v. Wade!

Kavanaugh won’t promise to protect people with pre-existing conditions

Our concerns about Brett Kavanaugh’s views on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Roe v. Wade deepened this week as Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on his nomination to the Supreme Court got underway.

Kavanaugh’s responses to senators’ questions on Wednesday appeared to confirm fears that he would pose a threat to our health care, if confirmed. Kavanaugh told Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that he can provide “no assurance” that he would uphold requirements thathealth insurers provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. He later declined to give an answer to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on whether or not he believes President Trump (who nominated him) should have the executive power to repeal protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

What about his views on Roe v. Wade?

Kavanaugh remained vague and noncommittal when questioned Wednesday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) about his views on Roe v. Wade, saying no more than that the ruling is “settled as a precedent” and “has been affirmed many times in the past 45 years.” Feinstein tweeted out this response:
Feinstein’s skepticism seemed to be validated this morning, when the New York Times published leaked emails that Kavanaugh had sent when he was a White House lawyer in the Bush administration. One of them, from 2003, said this: “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent.” Kavanaugh’s answers were troubling, but no surprise, as he has taken a regressive stance in cases involving health care and women’s reproductive rights. Just last year, he voted against assuring that an undocumented teenage immigrant could obtain a timely abortion.
During the hearings, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) reminded the committee what’s at stake with Kavanaugh’s nomination: “We’re talking about the impact of one individual on… whether a woman with breast cancer can afford health care or is forced off life-saving treatment; whether a gay or transgender worker is treated with dignity, or treated as second-class citizen; whether a young woman who got pregnant at 15 is forced to give birth or, in desperation, go to a back alley for an abortion.”

Sen. Maizie Hirono (D-HI) said Kavanaugh was hand-picked by Trump’s ultra-conservative advisors to act as the “decisive fifth vote” on a Supreme Court that currently consists of four Democratic appointees and four Republican appointees. “It could take just one vote on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and deny women control over their reproductive rights… [and] to declare the ACA pre-existing conditions protections unconstitutional,” she said.

Such a court decision would have devastating consequences for the estimated 130 million people across the country, including 67 million women and girls, who have pre-existing conditions.Without the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions, people could be denied health insurance coverage or charged higher premiums simply because of their health status. Unsurprisingly, a new Kaiser poll finds that the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing are overwhelmingly popular with the public, with 90% saying they want the ACA’s pre-existing condition protections to remain law.

The hearings on Trump’s SCOTUS nominee continue today, and a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee is planned for later this month. If you care about protections for people with pre-existing conditions, Roe v. Wade or contraceptive coverage, listen carefully to Kavanaugh’s answers to Senators’ questions. Then use this link to let your Senator know how concerned you are about what Kavanaugh could mean for people with pre-existing condtions and for women’s reproductive health.

How are we speaking out about these threats?

Leading up to this week’s SCOTUS hearings in the Senate, advocates across the country have been speaking out about the threat his confirmation could pose to the ACA, Medicaid, and Roe v. Wade. As part of the Unite for Justice Day of ActionNorthwest Health Law Advocates (NoHLA), our Seattle-based regional coordinator, participated in their local rally at Westlake Park.

Janet Varon, NoHLA’s Executive Director (pictured at left), attended the rally to highlight the rights at stake for NoHLA’s constituencies, including Roe v. Wade, voting rights, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights and immigrant rights.

In Washington, D.C., RWV co-founder Cindy Pearson joined women leaders from across progressive movements at the Senate Hart Atrium for the “I’m What’s At Stake Vigil,” where women shared their personal stories about why they’re in this fight and what the threat of Kavanaugh’s confirmation means to them personally. 
Texas lawsuit threats pre-existing condition protections

As we continue to follow the Senate hearings, we’re also closely watching a lawsuit attempting to strike down the ACA as unconstitutional. On Wednesday, a Texas district court judge heard oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by a group of conservative state Attorneys General who are seeking to overturn the ACA on the grounds that the federal tax cut bill enacted last year repealed the ACA’s individual mandate to have health insurance. Legal experts believe this lawsuit is likely to make its way to the Supreme Court, and that Kavanaugh, if confirmed, could tip the balance of the Court to rule against the ACA and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. 

Advocates in West Virginia, including staff from our Charleston-based RC, WV FREE (pictured), came together at a press conference to highlight how West Virginians with pre-existing conditions could be harmed by the lawsuit. At stake  is the fate of 737,900 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions, who could lose their health insurance without these protections. The press conference was held at Charleston’s Recovery Point, a treatment center for women with substance use disorders. Speakers discussed what life was like before the ACA, when insurance companies could deny coverage to people with a history of substance abuse or mental illness, as well as the role Medicaid expansion played in increasing access to treatment for West Virginians with substance use disorders. 


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