Advocacy Groups to Courts: Don't Let Health Reform Become an Empty Promise

Jun 18, 2010, 14:23 ET from National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)

NORD and other leading patient advocacy groups file amicus brief opposing frivolous lawsuits that could undermine the new legislation's protections against insurances abuses.

WASHINGTON, June 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) and other leading disease and disabilities advocacy groups have filed an amicus brief urging the courts to protect Americans from lawsuits that would undermine protections provided by the nation's new health care reform legislation.

The brief was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in response to a lawsuit that, the advocacy groups say, could jeopardize insurance reforms such as the elimination of pre-existing condition clauses.

"The health care reform legislation is a package of inter-related parts," said NORD President and CEO Peter L. Saltonstall.  "If the courts allow legal challenges to weaken any of those parts, the insurance reform protections that patients have fought so hard to secure could be severely threatened."

Other advocacy groups signing the brief with NORD include the March of Dimes Foundation, Families USA, American Association of People with Disabilities, and The Arc of the United States.  In all, 17 groups signed the brief.  They are listed on NORD's website (

The amicus brief is aimed at actions such as the challenge by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli against the health reform legislation's "minimum coverage provision," which requires that all individuals assume personal responsibility for acquiring some level of health insurance.

NORD and other advocacy groups argue that, unless health reform legislation includes such a provision, the cost of implementing reforms will be prohibitive.  The groups expressed particular concern about protecting the reform that prohibits insurers from refusing to provide coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Chris Jennings, a NORD Board member and Washington-based health policy analyst, said that "Ensuring that every American has health coverage spreads the risk more broadly and helps lower costs.  Experience has shown that, in states that have enacted insurance reforms without also having a minimum coverage provision, premiums have skyrocketed."

SOURCE National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)