Farmington advocacy group files amicus brief in health reform lawsuit

Farmington-based Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness has filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the federal health reform law.

The brief argues that one requirement of the reform law, prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, is necessary to ensure that health insurance is available to all Americans. The requirement is a valid exercise of Congress’ commerce powers, it argues.

But the requirement is only possible, the brief says, if healthy people are also required to be part of the insurance pool to control the cost of coverage. Because of that, requiring people to have a minimum level of coverage was also a valid Congressional action, the group argues.

“Requiring insurance coverage of people with pre-existing conditions arguably does more to advance the cause of people with largely invisible chronic illnesses than any other law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act,” the brief says. “Some of us who are disabled will regain our health and our ability to contribute to society by working and earning our way. Others of us will be rid of unimaginable suffering and fear. Nothing Congress is empowered to do would provide more critical legal protection to people with pre-existing conditions, including chronic illnesses.”

In the spring, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the health reform law brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which contests the law’s “individual mandate” requiring most people in the U.S. to have health insurance.