ACS CAN files legal brief in support of protections for people with serious health needs

June 14, 2018

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) joined with four other national patient advocacy organizations today to file a legal brief or amicus curiae that describes the devastating impact patients would face if the district court rules the Affordable Care Act is not a valid law.

Twenty states, led by the Attorney General of Texas, recently filed a lawsuit, Texas v United States of America. They argue that the Affordable Care Act must be struck down because it cannot stand now that Congress repealed the tax penalty that a person receives if they do not have health care coverage.

ACS CAN and the other patient groups urged the court in their legal brief to uphold the Affordable Care Act and to “recognize Congress’s clear intent to improve access to lifesaving health care for millions of Americans.”

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is typically responsible for defending the country’s laws, but, in this case, the Department has filed a brief declining to defend the Affordable Care Act.

The DOJ argues that certain protections the health care law guarantees for people with pre-existing conditions are invalid.

If the Affordable Care Act is struck down, this could have dire consequences, leaving millions of Americans with serious illnesses like cancer unable to get health care coverage. Studies show that uninsured patients are less likely to be screened for cancer, and are more likely to be diagnosed at more advanced stages of their cancer when it is harder and more expensive to treat.

“If people don’t have real health insurance — comprehensive health insurance — they die,” said Mary Rouvelas, senior counsel at ACS CAN.

Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, more people have signed up for health care coverage and the uninsured rate has decreased by more than six percent nationwide.

In a joint statement, ACS CAN and the patient groups said in reference to the health care law, “This has improved patients’ ability to prevent, detect and treat their disease. For instance, there is already a small but statistically significant shift toward early-stage diagnosis for colorectal, lung, breast and pancreatic cancer in states that have increased access to health care through Medicaid because of the law.”