The Trump administration recently announced the renomination of 51 nominees to the federal bench, including Chad Readler for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. In his role as Acting Assistant Attorney General, Readler overruled career attorneys at the Department of Justice and filed a brief on behalf of the Trump administration in Texas v. United States arguing in favor of striking down the Affordable Care Act, including its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Let’s be clear, Readler’s anti-health care record speaks for itself:
READLER AUTHORED THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S ASSAULT ON THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT IN TEXAS V. UNITED STATES
Readler Filed The Trump Administration’s Brief In Texas V. United States To Strike Down The ACA. In his role as Acting Assistant Attorney General, Raedler filed the Trump administration’s brief in Texas V. United States arguing that the court should enter “a declaratory judgment that the ACA’s provisions containing the individual mandate as well as the guaranteed issue and community-rating requirements will all be invalid beginning on January 1, 2019.” [Federal Defendants’ Memorandum in Response to Plaintiffs’ Application for Preliminary Injunction, Texas v. United States of America, 6/7/18]
Readler Was Nominated For A Judicial Seat The Same Day He Filed The Brief Calling For The ACA To Be Overturned. “If confirmed, Chad A. Readler of Ohio will serve as a Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Chad Readler currently serves as the Principal Deputy and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, a position that he has held since 2017. In that role, Mr. Readler has lead and supervised the Department’s largest litigating division and has actively briefed and argued several cases on behalf of the United States in federal courts across the country.” [White House Press Release, 6/7/18]
- Readler Was Renominated For The Bench In January 2019. “Today President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate the following judicial nominees: […] Chad A. Readler, of Ohio, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit.” [White House Press Release, 1/22/19]
Republicans And Career DOJ Officials Refused To Have Anything To Do With Readler’s Arguments
Republican Lamar Alexander Called Readler’s Argument “As Far Fetched As Any I’ve Ever Heard.” “Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, called the Trump administration’s argument against ObamaCare in a court case ‘as far-fetched as any I’ve ever heard.’ The Justice Department (DOJ) wrote in a filing Friday that it would not defend ObamaCare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, siding in large part with a challenge to the law brought by a coalition of Republican-led states. The states, and the DOJ, argue that Congress’s repeal of the tax penalty associated with ObamaCare’s individual mandate makes the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions unconstitutional Alexander said it wasn’t the intent to take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions when the mandate penalty was repealed late last year. ‘There’s no way Congress is going to repeal protections for people with pre-existing conditions who want to buy health insurance. The Justice Department argument in the Texas case is as far-fetched as any I’ve ever heard,’ Alexander said in a statement late Tuesday evening.” [The Hill, 6/12/18]
A 20 Year Veteran Of The DOJ Resigned In The Wake Of Readler’s Brief. “A senior career Justice Department official has resigned in the wake of the Trump administration’s move to stop defending a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, a departure that highlights internal frustration generated by the decision, according to people familiar with the matter. Joel McElvain, who has worked at the Justice Department for more than 20 years, submitted his resignation letter Friday, the morning after Attorney General Jeff Sessions notified Congress that the agency will not defend the ACA — the 2010 law known as Obamacare — against lawsuits brought by Republican-led states challenging its requirement that most Americans carry health insurance.” [Washington Post, 6/12/18]
Two Career Attorneys At DOJ Asked To Be Withdrawn From Readler’s Brief. “Just before the brief was filed, McElvain and two other career attorneys, Eric Beckenhauer and Rebecca Kopplin, filed a motion to withdraw from the case. Asked about the withdrawal of the attorneys, a Justice official said: ‘As is customary, the department decided to sub in a new legal team for a new legal position.’ The official said she was not aware of any indication that the other two attorneys were departing.” [Politico, 6/13/18]
An Ideologically Diverse Group Of Legal Scholars Said Readler’s Arguments “Violate Basic Black-Letter Principles” Of Law. “Under these circumstances, a court’s substitution of its own judgment for that of Congress would be an unlawful usurpation of congressional power and violate basic black-letter principles of severability. Yet that is what the plaintiff States and the United States invite this Court to do.” [Brief of Amici Curiae Jonathan H. Adler, Nicholas Bagley, Abbe R. Gluck, Ilya Somin, and Kevin C. Walsh in Support of Intervenors-Defendants’ Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Application for Preliminary Injunction, Texas v. United States of America, 6/14/18]
THE TEXAS CASE PUTS THE HEALTH CARE OF MILLIONS OF AMERICANS AT RISK
Republican officials — supported by the Trump administration in the brief authored by Chad Readler — in 20 states went to federal court in the northern district of Texas to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. In a December 2018 ruling, U.S. Northern District Court Judge Reed O’Connor used the courts to do what Republicans in Congress failed to do legislatively: strike down the Affordable Care Act. If O’Connor’s ruling is not overturned, it will rip coverage from millions of Americans, raise costs, end protections for people with pre-existing conditions, put insurance companies back in charge, and force seniors to pay more for prescription drugs. The result will be to — as the Trump Administration itself admitted in Court — unleash “chaos” in our entire health care system.
If The Texas Ruling Is Not Overturned, 17.1 Million People could Lose Their Coverage
- According to the Urban Institute, 17.1 million people would lose coverage in the first year by repealing the Affordable Care Act, leading to a 50 percent increase in the uninsured rate.
If The Texas Ruling Is Not Overturned, Insurance Companies Could Be Put Back In Charge, Ending Protections For The 130 Million People With A Pre-Existing Condition
- According to a recent analysis by the Center for American Progress, roughly half of nonelderly Americans, or as many as 130 million people, have a pre-existing condition. This includes:
- 44 million people who have high blood pressure
- 45 million people who have behavioral health disorders
- 44 million people who have high cholesterol
- 34 million people who have asthma and chronic lung disease
- 34 million people who have osteoarthritis and other joint disorders
- 17 million children. One in four children, or roughly 17 million, have a pre-existing condition.
- 68 million women. More than half of women and girls nationally have a pre-existing condition.
- 30 million people aged 55-64. 84 percent of older adults, 30.5 million Americans between age 55 and 64, have a pre-existing condition.
If The Texas Ruling Is Not Overturned, Insurance Companies Could Have the Power to Limit the Care You Get, Even If You Have Insurance Through Your Employer
- Insurance Companies Do Not Have to Provide the Coverage You Need. The Affordable Care Act made comprehensive coverage more available by requiring insurance companies to include “essential health benefits” in their plans, such as maternity care, hospitalization, substance abuse care and prescription drug coverage. Before the ACA, people had to pay extra for separate coverage for these benefits. For example, in 2013, 75 percent of non-group plans did not cover maternity care, 45 percent did not cover substance abuse disorder services, and 38 percent did not cover mental health services. Six percent did not even cover generic drugs.
- Reinstate Lifetime and Annual Limits. Repealing the Affordable Care Act means insurance companies would be able to impose annual and lifetime limits on coverage.
- Large Employers Could Choose to Follow Any State’s Guidance, Enabling Them Put Annual and Lifetime Limits on Their Employees’ Health Care. Without the ACA’s definition of essential health benefits (EHB) in even some states, states could eliminate them altogether. Large employers could choose to apply any state’s standard, making state regulations essentially meaningless. Because the prohibition on annual and lifetime limits only applies to essential health benefits, this change would allow employers to reinstate annual and lifetime limits on their employees’ coverage.
AT HIS CONFIRMATION HEARING, READLER ATTEMPTED TO DOWNPLAY HIS INVOLVEMENT IN THE BRIEF CALLING FOR THE ACA TO BE STRUCK DOWN
Readler Denied That He Was The “Primary Author” Of The Brief Calling For The ACA To Be Struck Down. Mike Lee: Now, as acting assistant attorney general over the Civil Division or as the PDAG were you the primary author of briefs involving some of the cases that have been brought to the public’s attention in connection with your confirmation including the treatment of — in cases involving the treatment of pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act, the separation of unaccompanied alien children from their parents, the so-called Entry Ban DACA litigation or sanctuary cities. Chad Readler: Senator, I wouldn’t call myself the primary author. As the head of the division my name would go on every single brief that the division would file. That could be 20 or 30 briefs a day. Depending on the case I may have had different levels of involvement with the case. I may not have looked at briefs, I may not have, but again it’s tradition at the department that the head of the division goes on every, name, goes on every single brief.” [Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Pending Nominations, 10/16/18]
Readler Defended The Brief: “We Would Not Make An Argument If I Thought It Was Unethical Or Frivolous.” “Pat Leahy: You do stand by those arguments today that the Affordable Care Act cannot be reasonably defended? Chad Readler: Senator, the position that the attorney general took is that the mandate was unconstitutional and… Leahy: Will you stand by those arguments today? Readler: Senator, it is my position to advocate for the United States. We would not make an argument if I thought it was unethical or frivolous.” [Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Pending Nominations, 10/16/18]
Readler On Whether Millions Of People With Pre-Existing Conditions Could Lose Health Coverage If His Position Prevailed: “The Attorney General Was Clear About What The Legal Position For The Department Would Be. And We’ve Advocated That Position.” “Maisie Hirono: You’ve been asked a number of questions about your role in Texas versus United States. So if your argument – let me start with the protections of preexisting conditions under the ACA. If your argument on pre-existing condition prevails, would it mean that one in four people who have pre-existing conditions, millions of people in our country including women who have been pregnant possessing the pre-existing condition? Of course, people with asthma, diabetes, cancer. Doesn’t it mean that if your argument prevails that all of these people with pre-existing conditions will either lose their health insurance altogether or have to pay much, much more for health insurance? […] Chad Readler: So senator, healthcare is a very important policy issue in this country. I agree there are a lot of individuals and families facing very serious healthcare conditions. With respect to the legal issues, I’m not a policymaker, but with respect to legal issues in those cases, or in that case, the attorney general was clear about what the legal position for the department would be. And we’ve advocated that position.” [Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Pending Nominations, 10/16/18]