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U.S. Appeals Court Strikes Individual Mandate; Directs Lower Court to Reconsider Broader Health Care Law

December 18, 2019

The National MS Society is one of seventeen of the nation’s leading patient advocacy groups that are remaining steadfast in their commitment to protecting patients throughout the next phase of legal proceedings involving the health care law known as the Affordable Care Act. Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit struck down the individual mandate without a tax penalty as unconstitutional. It sent the case back to the District Court to determine if the mandate can be “severed” from the rest of the law and to consider whether a ruling should be limited to just the plaintiff states or apply to all states. The Attorney General of California, who has been leading the defense of the ACA, indicated that California will be filing a petition to request that the Supreme Court of the United States hear an appeal.

The law, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions and minimum insurance coverage standards, will remain in place in the meantime.

The patient groups filed a joint amicus brief in support of upholding the law. Following is the group’s statement:

“The Fifth Circuit ruling will cause more uncertainty for millions of Americans who live with serious, acute and chronic health conditions and who rely on the Affordable Care Act to access comprehensive health coverage.

“The critical patient protections remain in place for now, including for people who just purchased healthcare for 2020, but the long-term viability of these essential protections continues to be at risk. Those protections include 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 a serious condition and eliminating arbitrary dollar limits on coverage. 
“Millions of Americans have benefited from these fundamental protections. Today’s ruling continues to threaten the future of these basic protections and leaves those who rely on the law’s benefits in a state of flux.

“On behalf of the millions of patients our organizations represent, we will continue to advocate for the quality care patients need and the lives that depend on this law throughout the legal process.”
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The patient 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, Global Healthy Living 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

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. 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. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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