A look into what’s at risk if the ongoing Republican lawsuit succeeds — and what Georgians can expect more of if Loeffler holds on to her seat following this year’s special election in the Senate
ATLANTA — Today, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp in Dec. 2019, voted to allow the Trump administration to continue supporting an ongoing Republican federal lawsuit that appears to be determined to overturn the Affordable Care Act. This was shared to the media in an official press release from the Georgia Democratic Party.
The impending decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Texas v. Azar case — a 2018 lawsuit in which 20 GOP-led states sought to overturn the ACA — could make it so insurers will “once again return to using people’s health status in determining their eligibility and premiums for health insurance.”
Texas v. Azar was filed soon after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the ACA’s individual mandate penalty to $0, which was enacted in late 2017 and took effect in 2019. Since the case was initially filed, two states — Wisconsin and Maine — have withdrawn from the suit after Democratic governors took office. Today, 18 GOP-led states continue to challenge the ACA in this case, including Georgia. Here, plaintiff states’ Attorneys General and the Trump Administration argue the ACA is “unconstitutionally structured and should be invalidated in its entirety.” This case is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court one week after Election Day.
The success of this lawsuit as it stands could lead to numerous dire consequences for Georgians, especially now during a global pandemic in which federal and state fiscal and medical support is waning as the coronavirus continues to spread and infect U.S. citizens. If Republicans win the lawsuit, it would mean:
- Over 1.8 million Georgians with pre-existing conditions could see massive price increases or lose access to care
- Nearly half a million Georgians would lose their health care coverage
- Georgians 26 years old and younger would be kicked off their families’ coverage
- The CDC would lose an essential public health fund
- Essential benefits coverage ranging from maternity care to basic prescription drugs could be gone
Loeffler was appointed to the Senate by Gov. Kemp against President Donald Trump and his allies’ wishes, facing scrutiny for simply pandering to white suburban women. Despite the potential clash, Loeffler has publicly pledged to stand with the Republican Party and Trump “100%” since her time in the Senate, including backing the president’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Senate Republicans are currently planning to host hearings for Barrett’s nomination on Oct. 12 and vote on her nomination by Oct. 22, which could lead to a confirmation vote ahead of the election and important Supreme Court cases.
While this is Loeffler’s most recent act as senator, it is not the first in a series of actions reflecting her values committed to the Republican Party, the Trump administration, and corporations during her tenure.
Sen. Loeffler, who replaced former Sen. Johnny Isakson following his retirement, is the former chief executive of financial services company Bakkt and owner of the Atlanta Dream, which is part of the Women’s National Basketball Association. Loeffler left her position as Bakkt’s CEO in late 2019 to begin her work in the Senate.
WNBA players have called for Loeffler to sell her stake in the Atlanta Dream, to which Loeffler said she had no intention of doing so in July 2020. She had previously stated strong opposition to the league’s plan to honor the Black Lives Matter movement, saying in a letter to WNBA President Cathy Engelbert that the movement was “totally misaligned with the values and goals of the WNBA and the American Dream, where we support tolerance and inclusion.” She then suggested the league put American flags on its jerseys, instead.
“Now more than ever, we should be united in our goal to remove politics from sports,” she added in the letter.
In early August, Atlanta Dream players wore shirts backing Dr. Raphael Warnock, who is one of Loeffler’s key opponents in this fall’s special election for the Senate seat.
In addition to her apparently vehement stance against the Black Lives Matter movement, financial statements show Loeffler received a lofty $9 billion bonus from the Intercontinental Exchange (or ICE — not to be confused with Immigration and Customs Enforcement) right before she entered the Senate. A New York Times report shows that, in total, Loeffler received $12.5 million last year in rewards in bonuses.
A spokesperson for Loeffler responded to this saying that the senator left “millions in equity compensation behind to serve in public office to protect freedom, conservative values, and economic opportunity for all Georgians,” adding that she brings “unparalleled business experience to helping solve our nation’s challenges at a time when we need to rebuild our economy and restore jobs.”
However, early this year, Loeffler came under fire for reportedly selling off sizable stock positions following a private government meeting during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
Loeffler stands in a tight race to hold on to her seat — one that she was not elected to by Georgians, but was simply given by Gov. Kemp — against Democratic candidates Warnock and Matt Lieberman and Republican Doug Collins. A recent poll shows Warnock as the current frontrunner, with 31% over Loeffler’s 23%.
Warnock, who has served as Ebenezer Baptist Church’s pastor since 2005, supports Medicaid expansion and the strengthening of the ACA, has focused on the work of environmental justice throughout his time as reverend at Ebenezer Baptist Church, and “responsibly funding the police” in his strong platform for criminal justice reform.
As tensions rise leading up to Election Day on Nov. 3 and Senate Republicans pave the way for Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, it is vital that Georgians show up to knock Loeffler out of her unelected seat. In less than a year, she has proven she has no interest in truly serving the people, even with her “unparalleled business experience,” which seemed to only come in handy for her when the coronavirus was being to spread in our country’s peripheries.
Early voting in Georgia begins Oct. 12. You can learn more about what you need to know for voting in this year’s election here.