The National MS Society has joined 17 other organizations, representing the interests of the millions of patients and consumers, to respond to the latest executive orders
signed by President Trump. Since March of 2017, our organizations have worked in coalition to protect and advance policies that ensure our patients and consumers have adequate, affordable, and accessible health insurance coverage. Together, we understand what individuals and families, including those with pre-existing conditions, need to prevent disease, manage health, and cure illness.
People with pre-existing conditions rely on a suite of critical protections enshrined in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to help them access comprehensive, affordable health coverage that meets their medical needs. Unfortunately, the arguments of the plaintiffs in California v. Texas – a lawsuit brought by 20 states and two individual plaintiffs – represent a serious threat to these protections. In this lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue that the court must invalidate the entire ACA due to Congress’ repeal of the penalty associated with the individual mandate. Furthermore, we are deeply troubled that the Administration and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have declined to defend the constitutionality of many of the ACA provisions that directly protect people with pre-existing conditions.
While we appreciate that the Executive Orders released by the White House on September 24 focus on patients with pre-existing conditions and surprise medical billing, the orders hold no force of law. What is most concerning is that, while the Administration communicates support for patients with pre-existing conditions, the Administration has continually targeted provisions of the ACA that protect patients. These attacks on existing protections, combined with the lack of progress toward enacting policies that would meaningfully improve or protect coverage for patients in Congress or through regulation, puts people with pre-existing conditions in danger of losing reliable access to care they need.
We cannot ignore that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the need is arguably the greatest, some people in America still do not have accessible, adequate, and affordable coverage. That number of un- and under-insured Americans will skyrocket if the ACA is overturned. And despite last week’s symbolic gestures, these actions do nothing to prevent discrimination against patients. People with pre-existing conditions need real protections, and it is past time for the Administration and Congress to protect and expand upon those already in law.
Our organizations stand ready to work with the Administration on solutions that serve the patients we represent.