Much of the media frenzy over the June 28 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional focused on the political ramifications of the decision, primarily how it will affect the presidential election in November.
Many health care analysts were understandably busy explaining what will happen when the law is fully implemented in 2014, most importantly how 32 million currently uninsured Americans will have health care coverage.
Less discussed was the fact that millions of Americans are already benefiting from the ACA and could have lost those benefits immediately if the Court had ruled the entire law unconstitutional. They will also lose them if Republicans are able to make good on their promises to repeal the entire law, a vow which many conservatives hysterically repeated after the ruling by a Chief Justice appointed by President George W. Bush ruled that the Act could stand.
More than 6.6 million young adults are currently insured because the ACA allows them to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26. As of last December, more than 100,000 of them were in North Carolina. They could automatically lose that coverage if the ACA were repealed.
More that 1.1 million people in North Carolina on Medicare have received free preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopy thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Those free services would end if the Republicans follow through on their promise to repeal the law next year.
More than 110,000 seniors received a $250 rebate to help pay for prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole in their Medicare coverage. Just in the first five months of 2012, more than 20,000 people in Medicare in North Carolina were able to take advantage of a 50 percent reduction in the costs of brand name prescription medication. More than 108,000 seniors in the state received that benefit.
The drug discount could end immediately if Republicans get their way and repeal the law.
More than 3 million people are no longer subject to lifetime caps on coverage, which means cancer survivors and people with chronic illnesses won’t be bankrupted by their health conditions. They could face that danger again if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.
Millions of children with a pre-existing condition can no longer be denied coverage thanks to the ACA. There’s no guarantee that health insurance would be available to a child with a chronic disease without the law that Republicans keep promising to undo.
All those things are widely popular with the American people and so are many of the provisions set to go into effect in two years. All of them were at stake Thursday and could have been lost if the minority on the Supreme Court had prevailed.
Now that the court has ruled that the law is constitutional, the only threat to the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act are the politicians who continue to mislead the public about what it actually does and who it helps, and the families it is helping already.
For the millions of seniors and children and families whose lives are already better because of the Affordable Care Act, Thursday’s ruling is a huge relief.
The Supreme Court voted not to take those lifesaving benefits away.
But disturbingly, some misguided politicians are still trying to. : :
— Chris Fitzsimon is the Executive Director at N.C. Policy Watch, ncpolicywatch.com.