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December 19, 2018

Update on recent ACA ruling

You no doubt have heard about the December 14th ruling in which a federal judge ruled the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional because Congress repealed the tax penalty enforcing the law's individual mandate. This decision will certainly be appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

You may receive questions from patients, their family members, or your colleagues about what impact the judge's decision will have on our ability to provide care to our patients, so I want to clearly state our position and provide you with some facts. Emory Healthcare joins with the American Hospital Association (AHA) and other health care systems in our strong disagreement with this decision. The ruling puts health coverage at risk for thousands of Georgians and tens of millions of Americans, including those with chronic and pre-existing conditions, while also making it more difficult for hospitals and health systems to provide access to high-quality care.

It is important to note that the recent ruling has no immediate impact on any ACA program and will not impact our ability to provide exceptional care to our patients and their family members. The ACA will remain in place while appeals are filed, probably until the case reaches the Supreme Court, which could take some time. The most immediate impact of the decision is the uncertainty it is causing among patients and providers.

Below for your information is a fact sheet provided by the AHA. I hope this helps clarify this situation and our position. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns. As always, thank you for all that you do for our patients and the communities we serve.

Please direct questions and comments to evphafeedback@emory.edu.

Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, FACR
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Emory University
CEO, President, and Chairman of the Board, Emory Healthcare
Executive Director, Woodruff Health Sciences Center

American Hospital Association Fact Sheet:
The ruling has no immediate impact on any Affordable Care Act program and does not give the Administration clear authority to alter any ACA program.

The decision is certain to be appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The legal basis for the ruling--that repeal of the financial penalty for failing to acquire health insurance renders the entire ACA unconstitutional--is deemed unsound on a bipartisan basis and by many legal authorities.

How the case wends its way through the courts is not certain at this time, but it is expected to be taken up promptly by the Fifth Circuit. It is not expected that any ACA program will be altered until there is a final decision by the courts.

There is no expectation that the Administration's efforts to promote value-based care will be adversely affected. In any case, the move to value-based care has become ingrained for hospitals and health systems, which have committed the necessary infrastructure and investment to provide more coordinated, convenient, and efficient care to their communities.

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