Baltimore joined three other cities Thursday in a lawsuit alleging President Donald Trump “intentionally sabotaged” the Affordable Care Act.
The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on behalf of Baltimore, Columbus, Cincinnati and Chicago as well as a Charlottesville couple. It names as defendants Trump, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its secretary, Alex M. Azar II, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and its administrator, Seema Verma.
Trump and his administration are accused of “deliberately trying to make the Act fail” by discouraging enrollment, raising prices and misappropriating funds allocated to support the ACA.
“The Administration’s actions violate the Take Care Clause and the Administrative Procedure Act,” the complaint alleges. “They should be declared unlawful and set aside.”
Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leana Wen said Thursday the destabilization of the health insurance marketplace increases the number of uninsured individuals, many of whom receive care through city programs.
“It will make us either incur additional costs of reduce our ability to care for the most vulnerable,” she said.
Wen also said the administration’s actions impact community health, especially in combating the opioid epidemic.
“What sense does it make to take away people’s ability to get treatment for addiction in the midst of a public health emergency?” she said.
Adam Grogg, an attorney with Democracy Forward, which is representing the plaintiffs, said Trump’s attempts to sabotage the ACA began on his first day in office and “continued unabated” while Congress tried and failed to repeal the law.
When legislative efforts failed, Grogg said Trump turned to executive action to undermine the law in violation of the constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
Zach Klein, city attorney for Columbus, said as city council president, he led efforts to contact members of Congress and urge them not to repeal the ACA.
“We won that political battle but the effort now has shifted unilaterally to the executive branch, where we have the president of the United States premeditatively and intentionally trying to sabotage Obamacare,” he said.
Klein and Leigh Tami, chief performance officer for Cincinnati, both cited the financial burden placed on cities when the uninsured population increases. The cities provide emergency medical services and recover the costs by billing insurance companies.
“Having uninsured or self-paying patients that we’re treating through EMS really affects our ability to recover those costs,” Tami said.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to order Trump to “take certain steps to faithfully execute the law,” including restoring funding for advertising, extending the 2019 open enrollment period and promoting reasonably-prices insurance for individuals with preexisting conditions.
The case is City of Columbus, et al., v. Donald J. Trump, et al., 1:18-cv-02364-DKC