Healthcare reacts to ACA ruling: from 'disastrous' to 'an excellent opportunity'

A federal judge's ruling that the entire ACA is unconstitutional has drawn a mixed response.

Here are eight:

1. CMS said the ruling does not have an immediate effect on its work.

"The recent federal court decision is still moving through the courts, and the work of the [CMS] Innovation Center will continue unchanged. We remain committed to our current and future models as well as our focus on better health outcomes at lower cost," the agency stated.

2. The American Hospital Association expressed disappointment.

"The ruling puts health coverage at risk for tens of millions of Americans, including those with chronic and pre-existing conditions, while also making it more difficult for hospitals and health systems to provide access to high quality care," said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the AHA.

"We strongly disagree with the ruling and urged the court not to accept the plaintiff's severability argument in an amicus brief filed earlier this year along with other national organizations representing hospitals and health systems. We join others in urging a stay in this decision until a higher court can review it and will continue advocating for protecting patient care and coverage."

3. America's Essential Hospitals President and CEO Bruce Siegel, MD, called the ruling "a profoundly troubling development that threatens to leave millions of Americans — including many with pre-existing conditions — little hope for affordable healthcare coverage and financial stability."

"Through the Affordable Care Act's marketplace and Medicaid expansion, the nation has made significant gains in reducing the ranks of the uninsured. Those gains have translated to better health and productivity for hardworking people who once could not afford the high cost of coverage. We must not return to a time when the emergency department was their only option for care," Dr. Siegel said.

4. Heritage Action for America Executive Director Tim Chapman, on behalf of the conservative policy advocacy organization, spoke positively about the ruling.

"If Congress returns control of healthcare back to the states, it will give more Americans, even those with pre-existing conditions, greater access to affordable healthcare," he said.

5. Association of American Medical Colleges President and CEO Darrell Kirch, MD, disagreed with the ruling.

"As we stated in an amicus brief filed jointly with several national hospital associations, dismantling the ACA will be disastrous for the nation's healthcare system," he said.

"Patients — particularly those with pre-existing and complex conditions — require stability and continuity in their care. Without access to affordable meaningful coverage, many would forego or delay necessary medical care. This ruling puts millions of Americans, including the most vulnerable patients, at risk." 

6. American Medical Association President Barbara McAneny, MD, also criticized the ruling.

She said the ruling is "an unfortunate step backward for our health system that is contrary to overwhelming public sentiment to preserve pre-existing condition protections and other policies that have extended health insurance coverage to millions of Americans."

"It will destabilize health insurance coverage by rolling back federal policy to 2009. No one wants to go back to the days of 20 percent of the population uninsured and fewer patient protections, but this decision will move us in that direction," added Dr. McAneny.

7. The Council for Affordable Health Coverage — a coalition of employers, insurers, life science companies, pharmacy benefit managers, brokers, agents, patient groups, and physician organizations — said the ruling provides opportunity.

"The court ruling presents an excellent opportunity for Congress and the administration to fix what is broken in healthcare: affordability," said Joel White, president of the council. "The November election was about kitchen table healthcare issues. Consumers want to know they can obtain insurance that covers their pre-existing conditions at a cost they can afford. Unfortunately, the ACA is a deeply flawed law that has failed to bend the health cost curve and left too many without affordable coverage. We will be closely monitoring the appeals process and stand ready to work with lawmakers to ensure that this verdict is an opportunity for positive, consensus reforms that solve our pressing healthcare affordability challenges."

8. America's Health Insurance Plans President and CEO Matt Eyles called the ruling "misguided and wrong."

"This decision denies coverage to more than 100 million Americans, including seniors, veterans, children, people with disabilities, hardworking Americans with low-incomes, young adults on their parents’ plans until age 26, and millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions," he said.

"We argued in an amicus brief before the court that provisions of the ACA affecting patients with pre-existing conditions, and those covered by Medicaid and Medicare should remain law regardless of what the court ruled on the individual mandate. Unfortunately, this ruling harms all of these Americans."


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