LeeAnn Hall is the Executive Director of Alliance for a Just Society.
Today the United States Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act – the federal health reform bill that grassroots leaders across the country fought so hard for. We are gratified that our efforts will continue to bear fruit and bring the promise of health care to more and more families in the United States.
Thanks to the ACA, insurance companies will no longer be able to reject people for preexisting conditions or sell health plans that max out when you still need health care. The Indian Health Care Improvement Act becomes permanent law. Small businesses and individuals will be able to buy health insurance in new state exchanges. And we will also have new tools for combating racial disparities in health.
Unfortunately, however, the Supreme Court’s decision does weaken the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid. Medicaid makes a difference for millions of people across the country, particularly low-income families, who have never been served by private insurance companies. The expansion of Medicaid was intended to ensure that we all move forward together on health care.
Now, it will be up to each state to determine whether to take up the Medicaid expansion. The lives of 16 million people depend on them making the right choice. It will be a horrible irony if people with the least – including those who have experienced the worst impacts of the recession and our health care crisis – are excluded from this important advance toward health care for all.