As virus cases keep rising, Kansas governor voices concern over Affordable Care Act case headed to Supreme Court

photo by: Screenshot via Facebook Live

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly speaks at a news conference on Monday, September 21, 2020 at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka.

Kansas’ challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic could get even worse depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act, Gov. Laura Kelly warned on Monday in a somewhat somber news conference.

Just one week after the Nov. 3 election, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments and rule in the multi-state lawsuit. If the court scraps President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law, it would be disastrous for many Kansans, Kelly said.

First, more than 1 million Kansans with pre-existing conditions would be in danger of losing their current health care plans, she said, including the tens of thousands of people in the state who have contracted COVID-19. Some 85,000 Kansans with plans in the current health care marketplace could lose their coverage, and the state would be unable to expand Medicaid services to an estimated 150,000 people statewide — “(all) during the worst public health crisis we’ve had in a century,” Kelly said.

While it remains to be seen how the Supreme Court will rule in the case seeking to overturn the ACA, the outlook became more grim over the weekend with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the Court’s more liberal justices. With Ginsburg on the bench, controversial rulings often broke 5 to 4 in favor of the justices appointed by Republican presidents.

Ginsburg’s death also sets up the possibility of a 4-4 tie, in which case the lower court ruling — which held that the ACA was unconstitutional — would stand.

All told, Kelly said, the current COVID-19 situation is dire for the state of Kansas — and she said it’s exacerbated by the state’s lack of a cohesive policy regarding face masks, which she blamed on “certain legislative leaders.”

“Weeks ago, I stood here at my regular weekly briefing and said that Kansas was at a make-it-or-break-it moment in our virus mitigation efforts,” she said. “Looking at the case numbers from last week, it does not seem like we made it.”

Indeed, in new data released Monday, Kansas continued its trend of high case counts and high positive testing rates. Since Friday, the state confirmed 1,674 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s cumulative case count to nearly 54,000. Kansas also confirmed four deaths attributed to the virus, which has now killed 600 Kansans — up from 500 just over a week ago.

The 1,674 cases were out of a total of 9,932 total tests, a percentage positive rate of 16.8%.

“I’m not sure we’re seeing a huge spike in cases statewide, but the fact that we are testing positively that many consistently is a concern,” Kelly said. “It’s going to make it very, very difficult if we had that kind of spread continuing to happen for us to be able to really ratchet up and open up things and (get) people back to normal.”


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