The Senate voted 52-48 to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court on Monday, with Sen. Martha McSally casting a vote in favor of the judge receiving a lifetime appointment on the nation’s highest court, which will now hold a 6-3 conservative majority.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Trump administration’s lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Nov. 10, one week after the general election. Protect Our Care, a healthcare advocacy organization, says overturning the Obama-era healthcare law could cause 223,000 Arizonans to lose their coverage.
Many have expressed concerns about Republican-nominated Coney Barrett, who could cast a vote to dismantle the ACA.
After the Supreme Court confirmation, Protect Our Care hosted a virtual press conference Tuesday to discuss the implications of McSally’s vote to approve the judge.
“With just a week left to election day, the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court makes the situation even more dire. It has been literally shocking to watch the GOP, including Arizona’s Martha McSally, help rush through her nomination,” state Rep. Kelli Butler said at the conference. “With the entire Affordable Care Act set to be heard by the Supreme Court right after the election, we can expect her presence on the court is likely to be devastating to the ACA and for all its protections for your healthcare.”
Today I had the honor of casting a historic vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. She is a brilliant, fair jurist who will bring a stellar judicial temperament to the bench. I look forward to seeing her take her seat on our nation's highest court. pic.twitter.com/y3UKtpMhuv— Martha McSally (@SenMcSallyAZ) October 27, 2020
Under the ACA, health insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Butler says if it were overturned, this would put nearly 2.8 million Arizonans with pre-existing conditions at risk, and that despite claims otherwise, there’s not a solid replacement plan to protect pre-existing conditions.
“Republicans like Martha McSally...have tried to basically fool you into thinking they want to protect people with pre-existing conditions,” Butler said. “It’s easy for them to say they want to protect people with pre-existing conditions, but their actions tell the real story, because there is only one set of laws that guarantees people with pre-existing conditions can get insurance coverage for the care they need, and that’s the Affordable Care Act.”
Alicia DeWitt, a Tucsonan survivor of the rare illness Cushing's Disease, shared how a lack of access to healthcare has been detrimental to her livelihood.
At 20 years old, she began developing “concerning medical symptoms,” but without health insurance, she couldn’t afford to see a specialist. Ten years later, doctors diagnosed DeWitt with a brain tumor and she had her pituitary and adrenal glands removed.
This week, doctors found a regrowth of her tumor tissue.
“I can’t help but think back on that if I had been a 20-year-old today and I had been on my parent’s insurance...I would’ve gotten an MRI, I would’ve been diagnosed with a brain tumor and I’d be living a happy and healthy life and I wouldn’t be permanently disabled from something that I shouldn’t be,” DeWitt said.
DeWitt not only wishes she had better healthcare in the past, but she worries about the future of receiving healthcare if the ACA is dismantled. The law currently prohibits providers from putting a lifetime cap on the benefits one receives.
“I’m terrified for what’s gonna happen to my family...if insurers are allowed to put caps on how much my life is worth, they can stop paying for the treatment or the expensive medication that keeps me here. I don’t know what me and family will do then,” DeWitt said.
Congressman Ruben Gallego criticized McSally for her work against the ACA in Congress and said she’s “never proposed any solutions to the major core tenants of the Affordable Care Act that are life-saving,” including coming up with a plan to replace lifetime caps and protecting pre-existing conditions if the ACA were overturned.
“Instead of working on it for the last two years to actually fix the ACA, make it better or come
up with an alternative solution, all she’s continued to do is to participate in a takedown of the ACA without any proper replacement,” Gallego said.
Dr. Larry DeLuca, a Tucson emergency medical doctor, also said it’s dangerous to dismantle the ACA without a solid backup plan.
“We need government incentives in order to be able to support pre-existing condition coverage. So trying to get rid of all of it and just put a bandaid on it isn’t gonna work,” DeLuca said.
The doctor says if the ACA is struck down, the long-term health complications many who contract COVID-19 experience could be considered pre-existing conditions, and insurance companies could deny coverage.
“The people who have preexisting conditions, COVID among them, are gonna be people who are gonna be hurt,” DeLuca said. “You can’t offer up pre-existing condition coverage without giving something else to support it, it’s very, very expensive.”
As the four speakers at Protect Our Care’s conference worry about the long-lasting impacts on healthcare coverage after Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court appointment, they hope this election season, voters will choose leaders who will protect healthcare.
“We have just seven days left to decide how our country will move forward on healthcare,” Rep. Butler said. “In the middle of a pandemic, we need to unite as a country, protect our communities and chose to elect people that will share our belief that no one should be denied healthcare.”