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Florida Ruling Would Chart Dangerous Path for Public Health

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Washington, D.C. – 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 to treat.”   

“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.”

Last 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.

The 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.

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