Protections for pre-existing conditions and coverage standards at risk
Patient groups are urging the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to prioritize patient protections, including those for people with pre-existing conditions, when it hears oral arguments today (July 9) in the case Texas v. United States. The case is being appealed after a lower court ruling that the entire health care law should be struck down because Congress repealed the individual mandate’s tax penalty. The case was brought by 20 states and is led by the Texas Attorney General.
The patient groups filed an amicus brief with the Court in April arguing the law was intended to help protect patients with pre-existing conditions, and Congress’s rejection of efforts to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) confirms that intent.
Following is the groups’ joint statement:
“Millions of Americans rely on the critical patient protections included in the ACA to access, afford and retain meaningful health coverage that is essential for their well-being. This includes people who suffer from serious, acute and chronic health conditions, like cancer, heart and lung disease, chronic neurological diseases, diabetes, pregnancy, and mental health and substance use disorders.
“If allowed to stand, the lower court’s ruling would once again mean people could be charged more or denied coverage based on their health history. Insurance plans could impose arbitrary annual and lifetime limits on patients’ coverage and could exclude whole categories of care—like prescription drugs—from their plans. Striking down the law would also jeopardize the tax credits 8 million Americans rely on to afford health insurance on the individual market, and could result in millions of others being dropped from Medicaid should states decide to rescind expanded coverage.
“The consequences of invalidating the patient protections included in the ACA would be profound and immediate. An estimated 27 million people could lose their health coverage by next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
“We urge the court to keep people with chronic and serious conditions top of mind when they hear arguments today and to respect the will of Congress by preserving 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, 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.