Yesterday, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation joined 16 patient and consumer groups in filing an amicus curiae brief (or friend-of-the-court) in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit case Texas v. United States. The case, brought by 20 states, successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) after the repeal of the individual mandate in December 2017.
In the amicus brief, patient and consumer groups outline the potential devastating impact for people with pre-existing conditions if the ACA were to be struck down and critical patient protections, as well as Medicaid expansion, were eliminated. The brief will support arguments made by states defending the ACA as Texas v. United States is appealed to the Fifth Circuit of Appeals.
The filing of the amicus brief comes days after the Department of Justice (DOJ) shifted its position in Texas v. United States by agreeing that the entire ACA should be invalidated. Previously, the DOJ did not defend critical protections in the ACA, including protections for pre-existing conditions, but did not agree that the whole law should be invalidated. While the change in position is unfortunate, the court is still able to make an independent judgement on the merits of the case.
See below for full statement.
“The critical patient protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provide an essential lifeline for millions of Americans who suffer from serious, acute, and chronic health conditions. Their ability to access affordable, meaningful health insurance is critical to their health and well-being.
“The lower court's decision to invalidate the entire health care law threatens to resurrect barriers to health care for anyone with a pre-existing condition and could result in coverage being denied outright. Health plans would no longer be required to offer essential benefits necessary to prevent and treat a serious condition, and they could once again impose arbitrary annual and lifetime limits on coverage. Invalidating the law also would jeopardize the federal tax credits that make health insurance affordable for more than eight million Americans, threatening their access to critical health coverage.
“The ACA was intended to improve access to and increase the number of Americans with quality health care coverage. Since the law went into effect, millions more Americans nationwide are insured with higher quality health insurance than before the law was passed. Because of the ACA, there is already a small but statistically significant shift toward early-stage diagnosis for colorectal, lung, breast, and pancreatic cancer in states that have increased access to health care through Medicaid. Additionally, in states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA, the uninsured share of substance abuse disorder or mental health disorder hospitalizations fell roughly 15 percent from late 2013 to 2015.
“Undoing the patient protections in the law would ignore the will of Congress at the expense of 27 million Americans who would lose their health care by 2020, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. We urge the appeals court to respect the will of Congress, overturn the lower court's ruling and preserve health care for millions of Americans.”
The groups on the brief include the American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Global Healthy Living Foundation, Hemophilia Federation of America, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, March of Dimes, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, National Hemophilia Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and The Kennedy Forum.
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