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National Patient Groups Denounce District Court Ruling Overturning Health Care Law

December 14, 2018

Without Patient Protections, Barriers to Health Insurance Likely

Washington, D.C.—December 14, 2018—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 Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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