Sixth Circuit Ruling Helps to Preserve Critical Patient Protections

June 29, 2011

The nation’s leading groups representing patients and families living with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke issued the following statement today in response to the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to uphold the individual responsibility requirement of the Affordable Care Act.

The American Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association filed as amici curiae in this case, Thomas More Law Center v. Obama, supporting the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The statement follows:

“We applaud the decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s individual responsibility requirement, which is critical to preserving the law’s strong patient protections that are improving access to quality, affordable health care nationwide.

“Our organizations believe that patient protections such as those that end discrimination in the insurance market against people with chronic diseases would not be sustainable without the individual responsibility requirement. These provisions significantly improve the health care system for chronic disease patients and their families by dramatically expanding access to quality, affordable health care; reducing the cost burden on families; and refocusing the system to emphasize prevention.

“Provisions of the law that are already in effect prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, eliminate lifetime benefit limits and restrict annual benefit limits that can cause the sudden termination of coverage, prohibit the unfair rescission of coverage, and enable children to stay on their parents’ health plan until age 26.

“Without the patient protections that the individual responsibility provision makes possible, large numbers of people with life-threatening chronic diseases will be denied care or charged far more than they can afford for it. Research studies individually conducted by our groups and others clearly show that people without health insurance suffer disproportionately from advanced-stage chronic disease. We are hopeful that the individual responsibility provision will also be upheld in other federal courts of appeal to ensure the successful implementation of critical patient protections that are increasing access to quality, affordable health care.”

The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; by helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. To learn more about us or to get help, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem.  ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit

The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Our mission is to build healthier lives by preventing, treating and defeating these diseases – two of America’s leading killers. We fund cutting-edge research, conduct lifesaving public and professional educational programs, and advocate to protect public health. To learn more or join us in helping all Americans, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit

About the American Diabetes Association

Nearly half of American adults have diabetes or prediabetes; more than 30 million adults and children have diabetes; and every 21 seconds, another individual is diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The ADA drives discovery by funding research to treat, manage and prevent all types of diabetes, as well as to search for cures; raises voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and works to safeguard policies and programs that protect people with diabetes. In addition, the ADA supports people living with diabetes, those at risk of developing diabetes, and the health care professionals who serve them through information and programs that can improve health outcomes and quality of life. For more information, please call the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit Information from both of these sources is available in English and Spanish. Find us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn)