AHA: The consequences of a null ACA would be ‘profound and immediate’

The Affordable Care Act is back in court this week after a Texas judge ruled the law unconstitutional in late 2018, prompting the American Heart Association and other major societies to issue a joint statement supporting the ACA and its protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.

The case headed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans Tuesday, July 9, after patient groups including the AHA filed an amicus brief arguing a null ACA would hurt patients with pre-existing conditions. The appeals court will hear oral arguments from Republicans and the Trump administration, who will argue in favor of overturning Obamacare.

It’s estimated that, if the ACA is thrown out in its entirety, some 100 million Americans could be stripped of protections that once prohibited insurers from discriminating against patients with pre-existing medical conditions.

“Millions of Americans rely on the critical patient protections included in the ACA to access, afford and retain meaningful health coverage that is essential for their wellbeing,” the AHA, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Lung Association and other large-scale organizations, wrote in their July 9 statement. “If allowed to stand, the lower court’s ruling would once again mean people could be charged more or denied coverage based on their health history.”

The groups said insurance providers could impose arbitrary annual and lifetime limits on those patients’ coverage that could exclude whole categories of care, like prescription drugs, from their plans. They also wrote that abolishing the ACA would jeopardize the tax  credits of some 8 million Americans and could result in millions of others being dropped from Medicaid.

“The consequences of invalidating the patient protections included in the ACA would be profound and immediate,” the statement reads. “An estimated 27 million people could lose their health coverage by next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

“We urge the court to keep people with chronic and serious conditions top of mind when they hear arguments today and to respect the will of Congress by preserving healthcare for millions of Americans.”

The ACA will remain in place throughout the appeals process.