On April 1, 2019, the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) joined 25 other state hospital associations in filing an amicus brief in support of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). WSHA was involved in the creation of this brief, having been asked early on by the American Hospital Association to play a coordinating role in this effort. WSHA is dedicated to judicial advocacy on behalf of Washington hospitals and patients. Furthermore, the association’s involvement represents Washington state’s steadfast support of the coverage expansions included in the ACA.
“The Affordable Care Act is essential to ensuring that patients across the nation – and especially Washington state – have access to accessible, high-quality health care,” WSHA President & CEO Cassie Sauer said. “Its repeal would not only significantly disrupt patient care, but also negate a majority of the positive health care reforms that hospitals and health care leaders have spent the last decade working on.”
The amicus brief is part of the appeal of the 2018 ruling, Texas v. United States, that declared the ACA unconstitutional based on Congress’ repeal of the tax penalty enforcing the ACA’s individual mandate. The amicus brief addresses elements of the case that the judge and court failed to consider.
The ACA is a complex, multi-faced law. In addition to Medicaid expansion and insurance subsidies, the delivery reforms included in the ACA changed the way that hospitals provide health care and receive payment. The ACA incentivizes hospitals to operate with an accountable care model; this means that hospitals are paid based on positive outcomes rather than episodes of care. It positions hospitals to deliver comprehensive, holistic care to patients. If the delivery reforms included in the ACA were repealed along with rest of the law, patient care would be disrupted and negatively impacted. Texas v. United States failed to recognize that these reforms are independent of the individual mandate and should be considered separately.