Fifth Circuit Court Decision Perpetuates Uncertainty For Americans, Insurance Industry

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Statement attributable to:
Gary LeRoy, MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

"Wednesday’s Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Texas v. Azar prolongs the uncertainty that millions of Americans face about whether they will have access to health care. The Fifth Circuit upheld the district court’s decision that the individual mandate was unconstitutional. However, the judges remanded the case to the lower court to analyze and explain whether any or all of the law’s other provisions are severable from the individual mandate and thus can remain operative as a law without the mandate.
"By sending the case back to the district court, the Fifth Circuit has failed to resolve the market unpredictability that makes planning precarious for insurance companies and the Americans who depend on the ACA for coverage.
"The AAFP’s policy calls for health care coverage for all, and the ACA has formed the foundation for a health care system that works toward that goal. In addition to establishing a mechanism that enables people to buy meaningful health plans or qualify for Medicaid coverage, it also outlines the benefits—including coverage for pre-existing conditions, prohibition of annual or lifetime benefit caps, and essential benefits such as laboratory tests, emergency care, maternity care and mental health coverage—that all plans must provide.
"Equally important, the ACA also has established a framework by which insurance companies can develop plans in a predictable industry market.
"Meaningful, affordable health insurance is paramount for all Americans, particularly the more than 52 million people who have pre-existing conditions such as cancer, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening or serious chronic diseases. Coverage of medical services that prevent illness and effectively treat patients is essential to a healthy, productive workforce. The American people cannot return to the time when health insurance was extremely expensive and minimally useful. The Fifth Circuit Court’s decision leaves the door open to such a future."
Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. LeRoy, contact Leslie Champlin, 913-906-6252, or

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

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