Opposing healthcare may cost the Trump Administration in court as well as in November. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a lawsuit Friday for over $1 billion to fund their basic health programs.
Basic Health Programs (BHPs) are used in New York and Minnesota to insure low-income residents and are operated primarily using federal funding under the Affordable Care Act. But according to the lawsuit, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) withheld that funding unlawfully and without justification.
These withheld funds make up about 25 percent of BHP funding.
BHPs only exist in New York and Minnesota, and cover an estimated 800,000 Americans. Both states submitted plans to restore $1 billion in federal funding to these programs, but those plans were rejected.
“I won’t stand by as the federal government continues to renege on its most basic obligations in a transparent attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act,” said Schneiderman. “We’re suing to defend these vital funds and the quality, affordable health care they ensure for New Yorkers.”
The Essential Plan, New York’s BHP, is considered extremely successful by the state prompting most eligible individuals to enroll. Very low premiums, no deductibles and coverage of preventative care make the plan attractive to low-income New Yorkers.
This lawsuit is part of a trend of Democratic Attorneys General taking the Trump Administration to court as part of an organized resistance to Trump’s overreach and eroding of various protections installed by previous administrations.
Eight states filed suit last year against the initial iteration of Trump’s travel ban and sixteen and the District of Columbia sued last year to protect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And even those efforts are dwarfed by the more than twenty states suing to protect Net Neutrality.
This is in large part due to unprecedented coordination on the parts of Democratic Attorneys General. Elected leaders who used to rarely interact now have frequent conference calls and see themselves as the last bulwark protecting civil liberties.
And to Schneiderman and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, this case is a lot closer to essential liberties than it is to HHS financial policy.
“The Trump administration’s action jeopardizes quality care for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers and goes against everything we stand for in New York,” said Cuomo. “In New York, we believe health care is a right, not a luxury, and we will fight to protect that right for all New Yorkers. We are joining together to stop this injustice and preserve New York’s Essential Plan for everyone that needs it.”
Katelyn Kivel is a journalist and political scientist in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.