PHOENIX - Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Senator J.D. Mesnard, and Representative Jeff Weninger announced today they are working together on legislation to protect Arizonans with pre-existing conditions. The new proposed legislation would take effect in the event the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or relevant portions thereof. The group believes Arizona should join approximately a dozen other states that have adopted similar pre-existing condition protections.
In December 2017, Congress eliminated the penalty for not having health insurance, a provision that was essential to the 2015 Supreme Court decision upholding the ACA’s constitutionality. In December of 2018, a Texas federal judge struck down the ACA on the grounds that the mandate requiring individuals to buy health insurance was unconstitutional and that the rest of the law could not stand without it. That ruling is now on appeal and awaiting a decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will likely be followed by an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"A lower court judge has already ruled that the ACA is unconstitutional,” said Attorney General Brnovich. "Although the Supreme Court’s final decision on the matter will not be reached for some time, states should take this opportunity to discuss and debate appropriate protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The goal is to reach a consensus that reflects Arizona’s values and prepares our state in the event that the Supreme Court strikes down all or part of the ACA.”
"We're stepping up to deliver a safety net for the most vulnerable," said Representative Jeff Weninger. "I plan to introduce legislation next session that will provide practical and meaningful protections for Arizonans with pre-existing conditions if it becomes necessary.”
"Regardless of its intentions, Obamacare has been a disaster that should not be sustained,” said Senator J.D. Mesnard. “Now we have a chance to decide whether Arizonans want to adopt a pre-existing conditions provision. I've opened a bill folder that would conditionally enact such protections,” he added. “As the federal litigation progresses, I look forward to working with stakeholders to put this safeguard in place."
Any decision regarding the ACA by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will not go into effect until the Supreme Court provides a final decision or declines to hear an appeal. The timeline for a potential Supreme Court decision is unknown, but could happen as soon as the summer of 2020.
In 2000, Arizona voters approved Proposition 204, expanding the state's Medicaid coverage to childless adults up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level. This voter-protected initiative will remain in place even if the ACA is ultimately struck down by the nation's high court.