The nation's leading patient advocacy groups denounced the ruling by a U.S. District Court judge in Texas today that the Affordable Care Act is invalid because Congress eliminated the individual mandate penalty in last year's tax reform bill.
The ruling, which could eliminate critical protections for people with pre-existing conditions and minimum insurance standards known as essential health benefits, is expected to be appealed.
Following is a joint statement from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The groups representing millions of patients with serious illnesses filed a joint amicus brief in support of upholding the law:
"This decision threatens to resurrect barriers to health care for people with serious illnesses including cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes and those with neurological conditions. If the ruling stands, anyone with a pre-existing condition could be charged more for health coverage or denied access to coverage altogether. Health plans would no longer be required to offer essential benefits necessary to prevent and treat a serious condition and 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 8 million Americans, threatening their access to critical health coverage.
"Negating the law's patient protections could put the health and well-being of millions of Americans at risk, just as we are beginning to see the benefits of expanded access to quality coverage.
"The health care law was intended to increase the number of Americans with quality health care coverage. Since the law went into effect, uninsured rates have decreased by more than six percent nationwide. This has improved patients' ability to prevent, detect and treat their disease.
"The court should have respected the will of Congress, instead of ruling to invalidate the law at the expense of the 27 million Americans who will lose their health care by 2020, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.
"In the event of an appeal, we are hopeful the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will support individuals with chronic diseases and preserve health care for millions of Americans."
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.