COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Wall Street Journal reported today that a lawsuit filed by Josh Hawley and other Republican attorneys general would not only end protections for those with pre-existing conditions, but could also disrupt employer-provided coverage for 175 million Americans. The Journal writes that for the millions of Americans who get their health insurance at work, the lawsuit could lead to rising costs, extended waiting periods and the exclusion of certain conditions from their coverage.
As a reminder, Hawley has been an outspoken advocate for the Republicans’ lawsuit, which would allow insurance companies to deny healthcare to 2.5 million Missourians with pre-existing conditions.
Tens of millions of people who get health insurance through their job could face waiting periods for coverage or find that specific medical conditions aren’t immediately covered if the courts back a request by the Trump administration to toss key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Most of the attention surrounding a recent Justice Department request to strike down parts of the ACA has focused on the individual market, where people buy their own coverage. But the request would also rewind some protections for the vast majority of Americans—some 175 million people—who get health coverage via small and large employers, analysts said.
“Anyone who just thinks this is just impacting the 12 to 15 million individuals with individual coverage is wrong,” said Timothy Jost, an emeritus law professor at Washington and Lee University.
The Justice Department last week filed a brief in a continuing lawsuit brought by 20 Republican state attorneys general seeking to strike down the ACA.
…The administration asked the court to halt the ACA’s guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions and to relax limits on how much insurers can charge older people and women.
…If the courts toss some ACA provisions linked to the insurance-coverage mandate, elements of the requirements that also apply to employer plans would likely be halted or reversed as well, analysts said.
…That means employers would again be able to impose lengthy waiting periods for health coverage on new hires. Currently they are unable to lock workers out of health insurance for longer than 90 days when they take a new job.
Employers could also opt not to cover a new hire’s specific health problem, like cancer, for up to a year even if they provide them insurance.
…And when smaller companies shop for insurance, they could be charged more to cover their workers if they have a large number of older or sicker people. That can indirectly lead to higher costs for workers who pay a share of their premiums, health analysts said.
More than 13 million people get coverage through small employers.