Supreme Court Fight: Amy Coney Barrett and the Danger Of Striking Down Obamacare

New York -- Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, has released the following statement in response to President Donald Trump nominating Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

“The Affordable Care Act is a crucial lifeline for many working in the arts and entertainment industry,” said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association. “There is a critical fight ahead of us in the next six weeks about whether we truly want to be a country where health care is a human right. It is unconscionable that the U.S. Senate will rush this nomination while ignoring the HEROES Act, which would ensure that no one loses their health insurance in the middle of a pandemic.”

Equity members' health insurance is based on employer contributions and tied to how many weeks out of the year they work on contract. Members who work at least 11 weeks on an Equity contract can qualify for 6 months of coverage through Equity-League Benefit Funds, a separate nonprofit organization jointly managed by trustees of the union and employers. Members who work at least 19 weeks qualify for 1 year of health insurance coverage. Many members who do not meet the threshold for employer-provided insurance rely on the Affordable Care Act for coverage.

The Washington Post, in reviewing a case involving the Affordable Care Act scheduled for November, reported, “The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg injects fresh uncertainty into the future of the Affordable Care Act, as the Supreme Court prepares to consider anew the constitutionality of the law that has reshaped the United States’ health-care system in the past decade.... On Saturday, scholars said they regarded the law’s survival chances as dampened with Ginsburg’s death. Assuming the court’s remaining three liberals vote to uphold it, they now would need to find two justices to join them — one more than if the late justice were alive to participate, said Timothy S. Jost, a retired law professor at Washington and Lee University.”

Actors’ Equity Association has been fighting for the passage of the HEROES Act, including its full COBRA subsidy for Equity members who have lost union health insurance. Equity members have called senators and signed petitions by the thousands, urging Senate to protect the right of displaced workers to have access to affordable health care. The union is also asking for the return of pandemic unemployment insurance, as well as $9 billion in funding for the arts industry. 

ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA.  #EquityWorks  

September 28, 2020