Patient Groups: Uphold Health Care Law As Congress Intended

Patient Groups Warn of Potential for Dire Consequences in Latest Affordable Care Act Case

Patient groups representing millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions filed an amicus curiae or friend of the court brief today in the U.S. District Court case, Texas v. United States, citing the devastating impact patients would face should the court side with plaintiffs and move to invalidate the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The groups, which include the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, argue the law was intended to help patients and Congress’s refusal to repeal the law without a replacement reinforces that intent.

Twenty states led by the Texas Attorney General (AG) filed a lawsuit challenging the health care law known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in federal court in Texas. The plaintiffs in Texas vs. U.S.A argue that because Congress repealed the individual mandate's tax penalty as part of tax reform legislation, the entire law is invalid and must now be struck down.

Following is the groups’ joint statement:

"The critical patient protections in the health care law provide an essential lifeline for millions of Americans who suffer serious illnesses, like cancer, lung and heart disease, diabetes, neurological and chronic respiratory conditions. Their ability to access affordable, meaningful health insurance is critical to their health and wellbeing.

"Prior to the health care law, people who needed health insurance the most—older and sicker Americans—found it difficult or impossible to obtain affordable coverage. Denial for pre-existing conditions, outrageous premiums and inadequate benefit packages were often the only available options. Without access to comprehensive health coverage they could afford, patients were often forced to delay or forego necessary health care.

"Before the ACA more than half of heart patients reported difficulty paying for their care and of those patients more than 40 percent said they had delayed care or had not filled prescriptions. Uninsured patients with diabetes were six times as likely to forgo necessary medical care than those with coverage. Uninsured patients were less likely to be screened for cancer and more likely to be diagnosed with later stage disease which is harder to survive and more costly to treat.

"Since the law went into effect, uninsured rates have decreased more than six percent nationwide. This has improved patients' ability to prevent, detect and treat their disease. 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 because of the law.

"The health care law, including the individual mandate, Medicaid expansion, tax credits and patient protections essential to chronically ill patients, was intended to increase the number of Americans with health care coverage. Congress's refusal to repeal the law without an acceptable replacement confirms Congress’s intent. The courts should respect the will of Congress. Tossing out the law would clearly ignore the will of Congress at the expense of 27 million Americans losing their health care by 2020, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

"We urge the court to uphold the law and recognize Congress's clear intent to improve access to life-saving health care for millions of Americans."

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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