Sen. Martha McSally surrounded by pills and dollar signs Courier Newsroom Illustration/Tania Lili

Republican lawmakers, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have tried for years to repeal the landmark legislation. 

Republican lawmakers continued their efforts to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a plan to replace it as the landmark legislation hit its 10th anniversary this week. 

On Sunday, President Donald Trump reaffirmed his commitment to a lawsuit seeking to “terminate” the law at a time when people are increasingly worried  about access to health care due to the coronavirus pandemic

A full repeal of the ACA without a replacement could leave hundreds of thousands of Arizonas unable to afford health insurance – as many as 297,000, according to nonprofit advocacy group Honest Arizona

“The protections of the Affordable Care Act have never been more important, as America works to reduce the spread of coronavirus,” said Niles Harris, Honest Arizona executive director, in a press release. 

Harris pointed out that Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona has a record of voting against the ACA and supporting its repeal. 

“Now more than ever, it’s time for Martha McSally and her allies to drop their frivolous lawsuit and focus on protecting — not repealing — the health care protections that Arizonans rely on,” Harris said. 

Arizona state Rep. Tony Navarrete also called for Republicans to drop efforts to strike down the law. 

Why It Matters

As of Wednesday, 401 Arizonans have tested positive for COVID-19, and six have died.

People who develop symptoms may need to see a doctor or even be hospitalized to be tested and treated for the virus. These visits and procedures can add up, leading patients to be charged hundreds to thousands of dollars. One uninsured woman in the Boston area ended up with a final cost of nearly $35,000. The nearly 300,000 Arizonans who could lose coverage if the ACA were struck down could face similar situations.

A repeal of the ACA would largely affect people who are already at an elevated risk for the coronavirus – people with underlying health conditions and the elderly. According to Honest Arizona, 2.8 million Arizonans with pre-existing conditions could lose coverage due to a repeal and 94,000 Arizona seniors would pay more for prescription drugs. 

The Past Decade

Then-President Barack Obama signed the ACA into law on March 23, 2010. 

Although the measure reduced the number of Americans without health insurance by more than 20 million and included protections for people with pre-existing conditions, it has faced numerous attempts to repeal it. 

Republican lawmakers, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, tried to gut the law multiple times in 2017, but failed to get approval from the Senate, in part due to opposition from a fellow party member – the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona. 

In 2018, a group of Republican state attorneys general, including Arizona’s Mark Brnovich, filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ACA. 

After part of it was ruled unconstitutional, President Donald Trump’s administration argued the entire law should be overturned, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case later this year. 

Trump said as recently as March 6, when the U.S. already had 311 confirmed coronavirus cases, that he had no plans to stop his effort to “terminate” the ACA.

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