Hospital groups file brief on severability of ACA's individual mandate

AHA News Now

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed today with the U.S. Supreme Court, the AHA and three other hospital groups reiterated their support for the individual mandate to purchase health insurance contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, if the court decides that the mandate is unconstitutional, the justices should decide whether other parts of the law can go forward and not send the case to lower courts for fact finding, the groups urged. "A remand would mean months or years of continued uncertainty for hospitals and others in the health care field as the severability issue makes its slow way back down to, and back up from, the district court," the groups said. "…Health care providers, and the patients they serve, cannot afford to wait in limbo for several more years before they learn which ACA provisions will stand and which - if any - will fall." If the mandate is found unconstitutional, the groups urged the court to also strike three Medicare- and Medicaid-related provisions - the disproportionate share hospital reductions, the readmissions program, and the productivity and market-basket adjustments. Without the mandate, the provisions would no longer "function in a manner consistent with the intent of Congress," the groups wrote, noting that Congress' "careful trade-offs would be undone and the ACA transformed into a one-sided budget cut that would deeply harm hospitals and the patients they serve." The brief was filed jointly by the AHA, Association of American Medical Colleges, Federation of American Hospitals, and National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems. The AHA and others will file an amicus brief next week supporting the constitutionality of the individual mandate. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case March 26-28 and is expected to issue a ruling by the end of June.

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