Internists: Texas Judge’s Decision to Take Health Care Away from Millions Must be Overturned

Statement attributable to:
Ana María López, MD, MPH, MACP

President, American College of Physicians

Washington, DC (December 15, 2018) — The American College of Physicians (ACP) believes that a Texas judge’s ruling to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) is putting the health of millions of patients at risk. ACP urges that all existing patient protections under the law be preserved as the case makes its way through the courts.

If this ruling stands, patients could once again be turned down or charged more for preexisting conditions, and insurers would no longer be required to cover essential benefits like prescription drugs and doctor visits. Additionally, premium subsidies to make coverage affordable would end; insurers would pull out of the marketplaces; and annual and lifetime limits on coverage would return. Federal funding for Medicaid expansion would also be terminated, and seniors would no longer have access to no-cost preventive services.

While ACP hopes and anticipates that this decision by a single federal judge in Texas will be reversed on appeal, we take nothing for granted and will be doing all that we can to ensure that patients do not lose current law protections. We urge the courts on appeal to consider the legal and patient protection arguments made by ACP, together with the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, in an amicus curiae brief filed in this case.

In addition, we urge the administration and states to continue to implement and comply with all current law patient protections even as the case makes it way to through the courts. We urge doctors and patients in the 20 states that are plaintiffs in this case to contact their Governors and state Attorneys General and ask them to withdraw from it, and for all other states to intervene and join us in asking that Judge O’Connor’s decision be overturned on appeal. ACP also urges President Trump and his administration to reconsider their decision not to defend current law’s patient protections. Finally, we urge Congress to intervene and make it clear that its legislative intent was, and continues to be, to preserve all of the patient protections in the ACA, notwithstanding Congress’s ill-advised decision to eliminate the tax penalty for people who do not have required coverage as part of the tax law passed earlier this year.

This administration, as well as members of Congress and state governors, Attorneys General, and lawmakers from both political parties, have repeatedly promised voters that essential patient protections, especially for persons with preexisting conditions, will be protected. Now is the time to act on this promise by continuing all of the ACA’s current law protections as this ruling makes its way through the courts, and to urge the higher courts to overrule the Texas judge’s decision that jeopardized health care access for millions.


About the American College of Physicians

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 154,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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