Arthritis Foundation Statement on the U.S. District Court Ruling Striking Free Preventive Health Screenings

Statement from Arthritis Foundation President and CEO Steve Taylor

The March 30, 2023, ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, which strikes down the Affordable Care Act provision requiring private health insurers to provide lifesaving preventive care at no cost to the patient, will have devastating impacts on public health and on the lives of people with arthritis. The early prevention, detection and treatment of heart disease,diabetes and other arthritis comorbidities is a quality-of-life issue and an economic issue for patients and the health care system.
We are encouraged by the Biden administration’s swift appeal of the ruling, and we will continue to monitor the issue on behalf of the arthritis community and our peer patient groups with whom we filed an amicus brief in November 2022.  
Together, we issued the following statement about the ruling.  
“This overly broad ruling will have sweeping negative implications for millions of Americans by once again erecting barriers to lifesaving preventive care.  
“Numerous research studies have proven the benefits of these services. They ensure people can prevent, detect and treat their conditions as early as possible, improving health outcomes and saving patients and the health care system money. Whether it’s a doctor-recommended colonoscopy that finds a polyp before it becomes cancer, a low dose CT scan that identifies early stage lung cancer, a screening for diabetes that saves someone from developing potentially life-threatening kidney disease, a blood pressure test that alerts someone to their increased risk for a heart attack, quit smoking services that help someone end a tobacco addiction, or medication that prevents the contraction of HIV, these services are critical to people’s health.  
“Since the ACA was implemented in 2010 and these screenings and services were required to be covered with no cost sharing, preventive and regular care rates have increased. Taking that away from the more than 150 million people that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has found have benefitted from the ACA’s coverage of preventive services will negatively impact health outcomes.  
“We cannot risk returning to a system wherein every individual has to decipher whether their insurance plan covers a recommended preventive measure, and if so, what their out-of-pocket costs may be and whether they can afford it. The confusion and uncertainty will no doubt be a deterrent to early and effective life-saving interventions.  
“On behalf of the millions of patients we represent, we urge the federal government to appeal the underlying ruling that cost-free coverage of USPSTF recommendations is unconstitutional, as well as this wide overreach on remedy.”     
The full list of groups who joined the amicus are as follows: American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Kidney Fund, American Lung Association, Arthritis Foundation, CancerCare, Cancer Support Community, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Hemophilia Federation of America, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, National Minority Quality Forum, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Patient Advocate Foundation, The AIDS Institute, and WomenHeart. 

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