HARTFORD, CT — U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy called on Republicans in the Senate Friday to come up with a plan in case the Appellate Court upholds a lower court ruling that struck down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.
“My frustration has been my Republican colleagues in Congress who have just been boxing their ears and closing their eyes to the potential that the Affordable Care Act is going to be overturned by our court system in a matter of weeks, if not months,” Murphy said.
He said Republicans in the Senate need to come to the table with a contingency plan.
“What are the Republicans in the Senate going to do if Texas v. United States is decided for the Republican plaintiffs?” Murphy asked.
He said if the ruling is upheld by the Appellate Court,“We could be dealing with a humanitarian crisis in Connecticut.”
Connecticut is in a better position than most states because individuals with state-regulated insurance wouldn’t lose coverage based on pre-existing conditions, but Connecticut doesn’t have the money to subsidize premiums or fund Medicaid expansion without the help of the federal government.
In Connecticut there are 2.21 million privately-insured residents. Of those, about 1.85 million get their insurance from large group plans, 131,000 have individual plans, and 235,000 people are covered under small group plans. The Insurance Department doesn’t regulate the plans of 1.85 million people in the large group market, where the terms of employee benefits are set by employers.
So of those 2.21 million privately-insured residents, the 366,000 with individual plans or those who are covered under small group plans are protected from losing coverage for pre-existing conditions if the decision is upheld.
Murphy made his remarks Friday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford with the head of Community Health Services, a federally qualified healthcare center in Hartford’s North End, and two Connecticut residents who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act.
“My hope is that amidst all this other turmoil in Washington that my colleagues will see the light and come up with a plan so we are ready for the potential disaster of Texas v. United States being successful,” Murphy said.
Murphy said every few months the White House says it’s on the cusp of presenting an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, but has yet to produce anything publicly.
On Thursday White House officials told the Washington Post that President Donald Trump will issue an executive order within the next few weeks to address certain Medicare plans and allow the importation of some prescription drugs. However, it won’t be a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
The president had been scheduled, according to The Wall Street Journal, to make an announcement in Florida in early August, but it was postponed after several mass shootings.
“My feeling is that we should be focusing our energy on making sure the Affordable Care Act isn’t disappeared by President Trump,” Murphy said.
He said there’s an interesting debate to be had about what health insurance looks like in 10 years, but “we have a crisis in front of us.”
Murphy said he doesn’t necessarily support Medicare for All, which is being discussed by Democratic presidential candidates. He said the better way to get folks onto Medicare is to give them the choice to buy into the program rather than forcing them off their current insurance.
Murphy said he would support a system where every single business has the option of whether to put their employees on Medicare or providing Medicare as an option to their employees.