In a friend-of-the-court brief filed today, the AHA, along with the Federation of American Hospitals, The Catholic Health Association of the United States, America’s Essential Hospitals, and the Association of American Medical Colleges urged the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reject a district court decision that struck down the entire Affordable Care Act.
In summary, the brief states, “Amici write to offer guidance, from hospitals’ perspectives, on the legal issue in this case and the harmful impact that upholding the District Court’s decision striking down the law would have on the American health care system and all who depend on it to keep them well and care for them when they are ill.
“If left in place, the District Court’s wholesale judicial repeal of the ACA will have disturbing consequences. It would drag this country back into the world before the ACA, removing millions from the insurance rolls. And without coverage, Americans suffer. Those without insurance coverage forgo basic medical care, making their condition more difficult to treat when they do seek care. This not only hurts patients; it has severe consequences for the hospitals that provide them care. Hospitals will bear a greater uncompensated-care burden, which will force them to reallocate limited resources and compromise their ability to provide needed services.
“The judicial repeal of the ACA will have long-term consequences as well. The ACA put in place numerous programs designed to finance and foster innovative programs to address our most pressing health care needs, such as the opioid crisis and providing more home health care to support the country’s aging population. These programs should not be cut off before they realize their full potential. And the harmful effects that removing these programs would have on communities further confirm that Congress could not have intended for the entire ACA to fall with the mandate. This Court should reverse.”
In a separate friend-of-the-court brief filed today in the case, 24 state hospital associations also urged the Fifth Circuit to reverse, highlighting specific innovative programs and initiatives for delivering higher-quality, more coordinated care that have become an integral part of the U.S. health care system over the past nine years and that would be eliminated under the district court’s decision.
In a lawsuit brought by 20 Republican-led states, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor last year struck down the entire ACA because Congress repealed the tax penalty enforcing the law's individual mandate. O'Connor said that the law can stand while his ruling is being appealed. Twenty-one Democratic attorneys general are appealing the ruling and the House of Representatives has intervened to defend the ACA in the case.