Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act
Article date: June 28, 2012
By Eleni Berger
The United States Supreme Court Thursday upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the 2010 health care reform law.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court said a part of the law that requires everyone to buy health insurance or pay a fine – the so-called “individual mandate” -- is constitutional because it amounts to a tax, which Congress has authority to levy.
That part of the law is not scheduled to take effect until 2014, but 26 states challenged it, forcing the Supreme Court to decide. If the individual mandate had been struck down, the entire law would have been called into question.
“The ruling is a victory for people with cancer and their families nationwide, who for decades have been denied health coverage, charged far more than they can afford for lifesaving care and forced to spend their life savings on necessary treatment, simply because they have a pre-existing condition,” said John R. Seffrin, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society.
The court also upheld several other parts of the law that had been challenged.
The Affordable Care Act became a law in March 2010. Its goal was to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and provide new protections for people who have health insurance. Supporters said the law would make it easier for people to get and pay for healthcare, including care for life threatening – and often expensive – conditions like cancer. Opponents argued the law would cost the government too much money.
Some provisions of the law took effect immediately; others are scheduled to go into effect in 2014.
Among other things, parts of the law already in effect:
- Allow young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26.
- Prevent insurance companies from placing dollar limits on lifetime health care coverage.
- Prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions.
- Provide some preventive services like mammograms and colon cancer screenings for free.
- Provide coverage for some uninsured adults who were previously denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
In addition to the individual mandate, provisions scheduled to take effect in 2014 would:
- Prevent insurance companies from denying anyone coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
- Prevent insurance companies from placing dollar limits on the coverage they provide in a single year.
- Expand access to Medicaid.
- Establish state-based “exchanges” where people could buy health insurance.
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