Reality Check: Amy Coney Barrett’s Statement Isn’t True, Protections for People With Preexisting Conditions Are At Risk Right Now

10.13.20

Reality Check: Amy Coney Barrett’s Statement Isn’t True, Protections for People With Preexisting Conditions Are At Risk Right Now

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Amy Coney Barrett fell in line with the Republican strategy of downplaying and denying the truth about what’s on the line when the Supreme Court hears the Republican health care repeal lawsuit less than one month from today.

What Barrett said: “The case next week doesn’t present that issue. It’s not a challenge to pre-existing conditions coverage or to the lifetime maximum relief to a cap.”

The truth:

  • The entire Affordable Care Act is at issue. If Trump and his allies succeed in securing five votes at the Supreme Court, protections for 133 million people with pre-existing conditions and other vital consumer protections, including a ban on lifetime limits, will be abolished, 23 million people will lose their health care, and the entire health care system will descend into a chaotic nationwide meltdown.
  • Amy Coney Barrett has sharply criticized both major rulings that upheld the ACA: NFIB v. Sebelius (2012) and King v. Burwell (2015).

Earlier in the hearing, Barrett also misrepresented the history of conservative legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act. She said that the doctrine of severability was not an issue in the 2012 case, NFIB v. Sebelius. The conservative dissent joined by her mentor Justice Scalia argued that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and that it and other provisions were inseverable from the rest of the law, meaning that the entire Affordable Care Act must be struck down. “For those reasons, the unconstitutionality of both the Individual Mandate and the Medicaid Expansion requires the invalidation of the Affordable Care Act’s other provisions,” the conservative Justices wrote.

This is extremely similar to the issue the Supreme Court will consider next month in California v. Texas: whether the individual mandate is unconstitutional and, if so, whether most or all of the rest of the ACA must be abolished. Trump and his conservative allies are seeking to invalidate the law in its entirety.