Washington, DC – The Arc has joined an amicus brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the case Texas v. United States.  The brief supports the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and asks the Fifth Circuit to reverse a lower court ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas finding the law unconstitutional.

The brief outlines how the ACA has been essential to overcoming the disproportionate impact that America’s health care crisis has had on people with disabilities, and how it is uniquely difficult for people with disabilities to obtain affordable and adequate health insurance coverage despite depending on health care services more than those without disabilities.

“This phenomenon has resulted in the unjust reality that the individuals who need health care the most have the most challenging time obtaining it. Removing the ACA’s protections would reverse the gains that people with disabilities have realized since the ACA became law and return those with disabilities to a cruel reality in which affordable insurance lacks the breadth and depth of coverage for vital services and is difficult to obtain,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

Specifically, the brief explains how the ACA has expanded access to health insurance for people with disabilities by creating state-based marketplaces for private health insurance; expanding the scope and affordability of coverage by requiring health plans to offer certain essential benefits; prohibiting discrimination against individuals based on health status and exclusions on the basis of pre-existing conditions; and expanding eligibility for and the types of services covered by Medicaid. The brief argues that “declaring the ACA unconstitutional in its entirety will uniquely and extensively harm [the disability] community.”

“The ACA, which makes robust, affordable health care coverage possible for people with disabilities, is at risk in this lawsuit. We can’t go back to a time when people with disabilities and their families lived in fear of losing the coverage they had or went without access to the health care services that made life in the community possible. We remain committed to fighting for these rights for people with disabilities,” said Berns.

The Arc advocates for and serves people wit­­h intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 600 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.