Affordable Care Act Challenge in Texas

September 4, 2018

The American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network filed an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” brief at a federal trial court in a case that could have significant implications for our mission-critical work to improve access to meaningful health coverage.

Twenty states, led by the attorney general of Texas, filed a lawsuit challenging the health care law known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in federal court in Texas. The plaintiffs in Texas vs. US argue that because Congress repealed the individual mandate's tax penalty as part of tax reform legislation in December 2017, the entire law is invalid and must now be struck down.

Texas vs. US threatens vital patient provisions that ACS CAN fought to include and protect, including those that prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions by insurance companies and prohibit insurers to deny coverage and charge more for certain individuals based on health status. These patient protections are not only improving access to meaningful health care for many cancer patients and survivors, but they are also key to achieving the American Cancer Society’s lifesaving mission. Therefore, it is important that the court be aware of the real impact its decision could have on a patient’s ability to access health insurance that covers critical cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment services.

As the representative of the administration, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) typically defends the law of the land. However, in a disturbing development in June, DOJ announced that it will not defend the aforementioned critical patient protections in the health care law and instead will support the plaintiffs in the case arguing to overturn them. In response to the DOJ announcement, ACS CAN issued a joint statement with patient advocates who joined us on the amicus brief, urging the administration to reconsider its stance. The DOJ announcement makes it even more important for ACS and ACS CAN to underscore the implications that the court’s decision could have on patients.

The American Cancer Society and ACS CAN filed the amicus at trial jointly with the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.