Disability Groups Call Supreme Court Ruling On Affordable Care Act A Victory
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act is a big win for people with disabilities, advocates say.
The nation’s high court ruled 7-2 late last week that several states and two individuals who challenged the constitutionality of the health care law lacked standing. The decision keeps the law known as Obamacare intact.
“(This) decision is an enormous victory for people with disabilities and for all Americans,” said Jennifer Mathis, director of policy and legal advocacy at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. “The Affordable Care Act has saved lives and enabled millions of people with disabilities to live full lives in their own homes and communities.”
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The ruling marks the third time that the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act.
In the latest case known as California v. Texas, 17 Republican-led states backed Texas in arguing that the law’s “individual mandate” — requiring that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty — is unconstitutional because Congress eliminated the penalty in 2017. The suit alleged that because the mandate is central to the Affordable Care Act, the law should be thrown out in its entirety.
But, the court didn’t even consider the specifics of the claim.
“We proceed no further than standing,” wrote Justice Stephen Breyer in the decision. “Neither the individual nor the state plaintiffs have shown that the injury they will suffer or have suffered is ‘fairly traceable’ to the ‘allegedly unlawful conduct’ of which they complain.”
The suit and other efforts to take down the Affordable Care Act have been broadly opposed by disability advocacy groups. Last year, 19 national organizations filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the latest case asking the high court to uphold the health care law by saying that it “uniquely and extensively benefits people with disabilities.”
At the time, the groups noted that the Affordable Care Act expands access to health insurance while also ensuring that coverage isn’t denied because of pre-existing conditions or lifetime limits. The law also guarantees coverage of services for mental illness and developmental disabilities, provides access to home health care and bars discrimination in access to health care.
“Without the Affordable Care Act, many people with disabilities could never find health care on the open market or faced annual and lifetime coverage caps, putting them at risk of institutionalization, poverty and even death,” said Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network. “The court’s ruling is a huge relief to everyone who supports independence and community living for people with disabilities.”