Washington, D.C., January 31, 2011 – The American Public Health Association regrets the
decision of a federal judge in Florida
today to strike down a measure in the historic health reform law that requires
most Americans to have health insurance.
“At its basic level, the Affordable
Care Act guarantees millions of uninsured Americans access to quality,
affordable health care that has been thus far out of their grasp,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive
director of APHA. “This unfortunate ruling
would move the U.S.
health system further downstream and force doctors to treat sicker patients
rather than preventing illness or catching it early when it is cheaper and easier
“Every year, thousands of
Americans die prematurely because they don’t have health insurance or cannot
afford care,” said Benjamin. “Any effort to weaken or outright eliminate the
life-saving provisions in the Affordable Care Act sets a dangerous precedent
for public health and would unduly put the future health of millions of
Americans at enormous risk.”
year, APHA and nearly two dozen other health organizations filed a friend of
the court brief in State of Florida
v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking the federal court to
reject the challenge of the insurance mandate and Medicaid expansion provisions
included in the historic Affordable Care Act.
jointly filed amicus brief affirmed Medicaid as a “means-tested program that
provides health insurance coverage to people who generally cannot afford to
purchase private health insurance” and denied that the Affordable Care Act
radically changes Medicaid’s structure or purpose. Striking down these provisions would
dramatically reduce the number of people who would receive care and leave our
current system of treating sickness rather than supporting wellness in place.