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Patient groups praise Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act

Dismissal of the ACA challenge leaves in place protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

The nation’s leading patient advocacy groups are praising the U.S. Supreme Court ruling today upholding the health care law known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Court ruled the plaintiff states and taxpayers did not have standing to bring the suit. The justices determined that without a financial penalty, the individual mandate does not result in the type of concrete injury required to bring a lawsuit. The dismissal leaves in place protections for people with pre-existing conditions and minimum insurance coverage standards.

Following is a joint statement from 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, along with more than a dozen others. The groups representing millions of patients with serious illnesses filed a joint amicus brief in support of upholding the law: 

“This ruling is a victory for people with serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes, neurological conditions, mental illness, and anyone suffering long-term effects from COVID-19. These patients and millions more rely on the law’s critical patient protections to obtain more affordable, comprehensive health coverage.

“This decision ensures that essential patient protections will remain in place, including those prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage or charging more for coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, requiring health plans to offer essential benefits needed to prevent and treat serious conditions and eliminating arbitrary dollar limits on coverage. Federal tax credits that make health insurance affordable for millions of Americans will continue. The 39 states that depend on federal funding to help provide critical Medicaid coverage to low-income adults will also have funds to continue to offer increased access to that safety-net coverage.

“Millions of Americans benefit from these fundamental protections. Today’s ruling leaves in place the health care law’s critical access to quality health coverage for more Americans. "

“On behalf of the millions of patients our organizations represent, we stand ready to assist lawmakers in efforts to strengthen the law and ensure all patients can access the quality care they need.” 

The decision is a meaningful victory in a years-long effort to defend the protections provided by the health care law on which so many Americans depend. ACS CAN has played a leading role within the patient advocacy community at every step of this legal challenge since early 2018, leveraging expertise through our Judicial Advocacy Initiative to ensure that the cancer voice was strongly represented. 

Most recently, in May 2020, ACS CAN led 19 patient groups representing millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions to file an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief with the Supreme Court in support of upholding the law, citing ACS research showing the scientific link between health insurance coverage and medical outcomes.  

"Access to care is a core piece of ACS’s lifesaving mission. ACS CAN will continue to provide influential leadership to the patient community while advocating for stronger patient protections," said Lisa Lacasse, ACS CAN president. "Our work is not yet done. We stand ready to partner with elected officials to strengthen the law and expand access to quality health coverage more equitably."

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