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House votes to defend Affordable Care Act in U.S. Court of Appeals

On Jan. 9, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to petition to intervene in a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that could determine the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The House will ask to join 17 attorneys general in the appeal of a December District Court ruling that found the entire ACA invalid because Congress eliminated the individual mandate penalty in its 2017 tax reform bill.

If allowed to stand, the ruling would eliminate critical protections for people with pre-existing conditions and minimum insurance standards known as essential health benefits, which ensure comprehensive coverage.

Following is a joint statement from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), 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 District Court in support of upholding the law:

“The House of Representatives has made clear it will defend the nation’s health care law and stand up for the millions of patients who rely on the law for access to comprehensive, high-quality health care coverage. The House’s action affirms that Congress did not intend to strike down the entire law when it zeroed out the mandate penalty and underscores the importance of Congressional intent in this appeal.

“If the ruling is upheld, millions of patients with serious illnesses as well as 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 cover essential benefits necessary to prevent and treat a serious condition, and plans could once again put annual and lifetime limits on coverage.

“On behalf of patients with cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis, we commend Members of the House of Representatives for putting patients first and defending the health care law. We are optimistic the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will overturn the lower court’s ruling and preserve health care for millions of Americans.”




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