A slide Beshear displayed at his press conference
By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News
Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday that the latest U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was the most important lawsuit in which he has been involved, and that the 7-2 decision may shut the door to further legal challenges to the 2010 federal law.
When he was attorney general, Beshear and his Democratic counterparts intervened to defend the “Obamacare” law in a Texas federal court when Donald Trump’s Department of Justice did not. The judge ruled against them, in a suit by Republican attorneys general, but the Supreme Court ruled that the states did not have legal standing to sue because the hadn’t shown how the law harmed them.
Beshear said, “I’ve been involved in a lot of lawsuits since I became attorney general or before. This is probably the most consequential. . . . I hope that this will fully and finally end attacks on a health-care system that, during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, was absolutely necessary in keeping people alive.”
While the decision was based on lack of standing, “I think in many ways it will preclude further suits,” Beshear said. NBC News legal analyst Pete Williams agreed, saying, “It makes it pretty hard for somebody else to come along and make a similar challenge, so it’s a big victory for Obamacare.”
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, who as California attorney general worked with Beshear to lead the Democrats’ legal fight, noted that the decision is the third from the high court to uphold the law: “If we were playing baseball, we’d say three strikes, you’re out.”
Beshear said he intervened as attorney general on behalf of 1.8 million Kentuckians who have pre-existing conditions, to whom the law guarantees coverage; to keep allowing people up to age 26 to be covered by their parents’ insurance; to help fight the opioid epidemic; and to preserve coverage under the expansion of Medicaid allowed under the law.
Beshear was elected in November 2019 over incumbent Republican Matt Bevin, who said he would end the Medicaid expansion unless he was allowed to add a work requirement for many beneficiaries. Federal courts blocked that.
Beshear’s father, then-Gov. Steve Beshear, expanded Medicaid in 2014 to people with household incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line. During the pandemic, many people who lost their jobs went on Medicaid, boosting its rolls to 1.64 million, 36.6 percent of Kentuckians. In many Appalachian counties, it covers more than half the population.