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May 13, 2020

20 Patient Groups Urge Supreme Court to Uphold Affordable Care Act

National Patient Advocate Foundation joined 19 other patient advocacy groups to file an amicus curiae (“friend-of-the-court”) brief today with the United States Supreme Court in the case California v. Texas (previously Texas v. United States), citing the devastating impact on all patients should the court invalidate the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


The US Supreme Court will most most likely hear arguments in the fall, which will mark the third time it has heard challenges to the landmark health care law. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently struck down the individual mandate, for which Congress had zeroed out the tax penalty, as unconstitutional and sent the case back to the District Court.


“Patient Advocate Foundation case managers have worked with patients and their caregivers since the 1990s to resolve barriers to care and help people retain their jobs in the wake of a diagnosis. We know how hard it was before the protections put in place by the Affordable Care Act, and we do not want to go back,” said Alan Balch, CEO of the National Patient Advocate Foundation. 


The patient groups argue the law has expanded access to health insurance coverage and has improved patient outcomes as Congress intended. Congress’s decision to keep the ACA in place after eliminating the tax penalty tied to the individual mandate reinforces that intent.


Following is the groups’ joint statement:


“While the coronavirus pandemic further highlights the importance of access to meaningful health insurance coverage for millions of Americans – especially for those who are at high-risk of being severely affected by the virus – patient protections in the ACA provide an essential lifeline for countless Americans who have pre-existing or acute conditions like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and asthma.
“If the entire health care law is invalidated, health plans could once again deny coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition, set arbitrary lifetime and annual limits on care, and skirt essential benefits necessary to prevent and treat acute conditions. The link between access to comprehensive health coverage and patient outcomes is well established. Because of the ACA there have been statistically significant shifts toward early-stage diagnosis for several common cancers, a surge of people getting screened for and diagnosed with diabetes, and a significant drop in uninsured substance abuse or mental health disorder hospitalizations in states that expanded Medicaid.

“Invalidating the law would likely reverse these gains. It also would jeopardize the federal tax credits that make health insurance more affordable for millions of Americans, threatening their access to critical health coverage, and rescind Medicaid expansion funding, crippling the safety net health insurance program at a time when millions more unemployed Americans have no alternate coverage option.

“Undoing the patient protections and improved health care access would ignore the will of Congress at the expense of millions of Americans who would lose their coverage and millions more who would likely be unable to obtain coverage due to pre-existing conditions. We urge the Supreme Court to uphold the decade-old law and preserve access to health insurance—and therefore health care – for millions of Americans.”


A copy of the brief can be found here.


The groups on the brief include the American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, and its division, the American Stroke Association, American Lung Association, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Hemophilia Federation of America, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, March of Dimes, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, National Hemophilia Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Organization for Rare Disorders, National Patient Advocate Foundation, and the Kennedy Forum.