A Dec. 18 ruling(www.ca5.uscourts.gov) that called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's requirement for individuals to obtain health insurance unconstitutional has further chilled U.S. residents' access to health care coverage and dealt more anxiety to Americans, according to the Academy.
The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Texas et al. v. United States et al.(www.texasattorneygeneral.gov) "prolongs the uncertainty that millions of Americans face about whether they will have access to health care," the AAFP said in a Dec. 19 statement that reiterated Academy policy calling for health care coverage for all.
The ruling upheld a district court's decision that Congress' elimination of the tax penalty imposed on people who do not obtain health insurance -- the law's "individual mandate" -- rendered the law unconstitutional.
But the higher court also remanded the lawsuit back to that same district court, directing it to determine whether the remainder of the ACA is viable without the individual mandate or whether that mandate is inseverable,(www.healthaffairs.org) thereby dooming the entire law.
It's an unwelcome ghost of Christmas past for the Academy, which reacted strongly a year ago to the district court's initial ruling.
Worse, the case is likely to continue past next December; political analysts largely agree(www.bloomberg.com) that the fate of the ACA won't be decided before the 2020 presidential election.
That leaves family physicians and their patients in an unacceptable void, the Academy said in its statement.
"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 wrote.
"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."
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