WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 27, 2015 – In a friend-of-the-court brief filed today with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of King v. Burwell, leading groups fighting chronic disease provide scientific evidence of the grave consequences if millions of people nationwide were to lose the tax credits provided under the Affordable Care Act that provide the financial assistance they need to afford health coverage.
The brief from the American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association and National Multiple Sclerosis Society argues that Congress intended for the law to improve access to health care nationwide by making tax credits available to eligible consumers who purchase a health plan in either a federal or state marketplace.
Following is a statement from the organizations:
"Extensive scientific evidence demonstrates that access to quality, affordable health coverage saves lives. Several studies have shown that the uninsured are more likely to die or suffer serious complications from conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and stroke than are people with health insurance. Being uninsured with a serious chronic disease can also result in more expensive care, a greater risk of personal bankruptcy and higher health care costs system-wide. For example, published data show that:
The uninsured are more than four times as likely as those with health coverage to be diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancer and 1.4 times as likely to be diagnosed with advanced-stage cervical cancer. Uninsured patients with stage IV colorectal cancer are nearly four times as likely as patients with private insurance to go without cancer treatment altogether.
Uninsured patients with cardiovascular disease experience higher mortality rates and poorer blood pressure control than the insured.
Uninsured people who suffer an ischemic stroke have greater neurological impairments, longer hospital stays and up to a 56 percent higher risk of death than the insured.
Patients with no health insurance are twice as likely to have a diabetic complication as patients with health insurance.
Access to health insurance can determine whether a patient with MS gets a prompt diagnosis and receives early and ongoing treatment, which is essential to reducing the frequency and severity of relapses and slowing the progression of the disease.
“If the Court voided premium tax credits in the federal marketplace, an estimated 9.6 million people in 34 states would no longer be able to afford health coverage, leaving most of them no choice but to become uninsured. The deliberations that led to passage of the Affordable Care Act made it clear that Congress intended for consumers in both federal and state exchanges who meet income eligibility requirements to receive financial assistance that would enable them to afford health insurance.
“There is no evidence suggesting that lawmakers believed eligibility for tax credits should hinge on whether the state where a person lives chooses to establish its own exchange or have the federal government operate an exchange. Our organizations would have strenuously objected to any suggestion that the physical and financial health of patients with serious diseases should depend on the entity administering the exchange in their state. We would have objected even more strongly to any legislative provision that used patients’ well-being as a bargaining chip to induce states to establish their own exchanges.
“With the Affordable Care Act, Congress responded to gaping holes in the health insurance system that left millions of people – particularly those affected by serious chronic conditions – unable to afford health coverage, likely to face overwhelming health care costs and dangerously susceptible to illness and disability. The law cannot accomplish Congress’ intent to significantly improve access to quality, affordable health coverage unless federal financial assistance is available to eligible Americans in federal and state marketplaces nationwide.”
“On behalf of the millions of people in America with serious chronic diseases, we urge the Supreme Court to rule that people who meet income eligibility requirements can receive tax credits to make coverage more affordable in both federal and state marketplaces.”
View the full amicus brief HERE.