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HAP Calls for Certainty, Urges Supreme Court to Review ACA Case

In a “friend of the court” brief, HAP joined state hospital associations from around the country in urging the Supreme Court to provide “prompt and final resolution” of questions raised by the appeals court decision that held the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate unconstitutional.

A December ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the individual mandate and continued legal consideration of whether the individual mandate can be separated from the rest of the ACA, striking down the mandate while preserving the other parts of the law.

Objecting to the ruling and seeking certainty, twenty states and the District of Columbia petitioned the Supreme Court to take up the case and resolve it before the end of the Court’s current term in June.

The brief filed by HAP and 32 other state hospital associations endorsed the legal argument that the Fifth Circuit opinion was wrongly decided and the ACA should remain intact, and placed a particular emphasis on articulating the adverse impact of the wrongly-held decision on the delivery of health care services in this country.

The brief states: “A specter of uncertainty now looms over health care delivery and financing in this country… The ACA’s ‘delivery reforms,’ which the Fifth Circuit and the district court did not mention in their opinions, transformed the way hospitals and health systems deliver and are paid for health care. These reforms make fundamental improvements in the quality and coordination of care and have become integral to the delivery of health care services in the United States during the almost ten years since the ACA was enacted.”

The state hospital associations urged the Supreme Court to resolve the constitutionality questions in order to ensure “the valuable reforms designed to improve health care and lower cost” will not hang in limbo for years.

The state hospital associations’ legal arguments complement a friend of the court brief entered by the American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Association of American Medical Colleges, and America's Essential Hospitals, which stated:

“As litigation continues, hospitals, providers, and patients will have no definitive answer to whether the entire ACA will remain on the books when this case ends. That uncertainty will have serious, perhaps irreparable, consequences for hospitals and the patients they serve. In particular, it would destabilize hospitals’ ability to make long-term investments. Hospitals must decide which initiatives to fund years in advance. Before making those investments, hospitals need to know what the legal landscape will look like.”

HAP will continue to monitor the legal proceedings and work with members of Congress and the Wolf Administration to promote access to health insurance coverage and programs that improve the health and wellness of Pennsylvanians. As a reminder, the ACA plans in effect for 2020 remain unchanged and do include all the consumer protections the ACA requires.

For more information, contact Jolene Calla, HAP’s vice president, health care finance and insurance, or Laura Stevens Kent, HAP’s senior vice president, strategic integration.

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