FORCE advocates for families facing hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in areas such as access to care, research funding, insurance, and privacy.
Congress was on recess during the month of August but the legal jockeying around health care reform has continued. On August 2, a coalition of cities filed a federal lawsuit against the President and high-ranking officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), alleging that the Administration has “intentionally and unconstitutionally” sabotaged the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The plaintiffs—including the cities of Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Columbus, as well as two residents of Charlottesville, VA—claim that the Administration has purposely attempted to undermine or dismantle the law, even though Congress has kept the vast majority of the law intact. In doing so, the complaint alleges that the President has increased the cost of health coverage by discouraging enrollment, fueling uncertainty in the insurance markets, and reducing consumer choice. Rather than upholding the laws, the cities argue that the President has failed to enforce the law in good faith.
The Take Care Clause in Article II of the Constitution requires that the President “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The plaintiffs contend that the President and his Administration have violated this constitutional obligation by actively working to undermine the federal law in five key areas.
This litigation is in contrast to a lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General earlier this summer on behalf of 20 states. The litigation focuses on the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision upholding the ACA’s requirement that Americans carry health insurance or pay a tax penalty, a requirement known as the “individual mandate.” Noting that the tax overhaul passed late last year eliminated the penalty, the complaint contends that the entire ACA law is unconstitutional.
The Justice Department, representing the Administration, weighed in with a legal brief making the case that because the individual mandate no longer exists, the court should strike down the ACA’s protections for people with preexisting conditions, including the requirement that insurers accept all applicants (“guaranteed issue”) and that they charge people with preexisting conditions no more than healthy people (“community rating”). Read more about this legal challenge and its implications.
These are uncertain times in regard to health care in our country. FORCE represents a diverse group of Americans impacted by hereditary cancer and we strive to ensure that members of our community have affordable access to care—including the recommended screening, prevention and treatment options. The ACA is not perfect but its provision of essential health benefits and protections for those with preexisting conditions—such as cancer—are crucial. We will continue to advocate for a bipartisan approach to maintain these key provisions while improving the U.S. health care system.