Long Islanders have a good reason to celebrate: the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the most important aspects of the Affordable Care Act(ACA).
While the language of the Court's opinion can be a little tough to get through (see scotusblog.com for more information), the victory is that the majority of the justices decided that the government could compel all Americans to buy insurance by 2014. Their main point of contention was that rather an "individual mandate" to buy insurance, the court is interpreting this as a tax, which they agree is within the power of the Congress to draft.
Back in March, LIPC led a group of Long Islanders in wishing a "Happy Birthday" to ACA on its second anniversary, even handing out cake to college students who are recieving some of the first benefits of the law. We knew that it was going to be a struggle to preserve affordable health care, but with todays decision, everyone's hard work has paid off.
Just a few years before ACA was passed, researchers at Adelphi University's School of Nursing found that over 16% of Long Islanders had no health insurance whatsoever. These are regular folks like yourself, but who don't have the money to buy expensive individual insurance, and fall through the cracks of Medicaid. These are the people that the Supreme Court has supported today, giving them hope that they won't have to choose between bankruptcy and healthcare. But this isn't just a Long Island victory; it's a victory across the state.
The decision is a victory for the 150,000 young adults in New York who now can get coverage by staying on their parent’s plans due to the so called “under 26 provision.” Young adults will be protected as they go to graduate school, struggle with unemployment after college or struggle to make ends meet with a job that doesn’t provide health coverage. Many more will benefit in the future.
It’s a victory for the millions of New Yorkers who won’t have to have second thoughts about going to the doctor to get services like blood pressure testing and cholesterol screening, because the law prohibits consumers from being charged for preventive services. It’s a victory for millions of New Yorkers who will no longer have to worry about economic ruin if they get serious conditions like cancer because the law stops insurance companies from establishing so called “lifetime limits” on how much their health insurer will pay for their disease or illness.
And, it’s a victory for all New Yorkers, because New York can move forward with its plans to create a health insurance exchange – a Costco’s or Sam’s Club for health insurance. The exchange will provide quality health coverage to well over a million individuals: allowing individuals to save over two-thirds of their health premiums. And the exchange will help you pick out the health insurance plan that meets your needs, and protect you against insurance company bureaucrats that seek to deny you care just because it’s good for their bottom line.
The battle isn't over yet, though, and Long Islanders who are interested in finding new ways to support the Affordable Care Act should contact us at the Long Island Progressive Coalition, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 516.541.1006.