Bil Browning

Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare

Filed By Bil Browning | June 28, 2012 10:35 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: individual mandate, Obamacare, Supreme Court ruling, universal health care

If there was ever a reason for the White House to start re-claiming the label "Obamacare," now is the moment. The Supreme Court has upheld the president's signature health care law - including the individual mandate. You can read the full decision here [pdf].

In a sheer lack of journalistic integrity, CNN rushed to be the first to report on the ruling and misreported that the court had struck down the mandate. They issued a correction eight minutes later - long after their own anchors were telling viewers that the bigstock-Healthcare-7285749.jpgmandate had been upheld. To make sure we have the right story, here's what MSNBC is reporting:

In a dramatic victory for President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court upheld the 2010 health care law Thursday, preserving Obama's landmark legislative achievement.

The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who held that the law was a valid exercise of Congress's power to tax.

The decision came as a sharp rebuff and disappointment to congressional Republicans, many of whom had expected the court to strike down at least some parts of the law.

I still don't support the individual mandate personally, but my beef with it is because I don't think citizens should be forced to increase the profits of insurance companies. I realize that the mandate pays for the rest of the law, but I'd much rather have seen everyone get universal health care from the government. Corporations put profits over people and health care is a basic human right that shouldn't be decided based on how it will affect a company's bottom line.

Statements by LGBT orgs and politicians after the break as they come in.

National Stonewall Democrats

Today, the US Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the individual mandate for coverage. National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis issued the following statement:

"The Supreme Court did the right thing today in upholding the entirety of the Affordable Care Act and we applaud their reasoned decision. Healthcare is a significant piece of the American economy and a basic human right. This ruling ensures that millions of uninsured Americans will get access to healthcare and that no one will get a free ride.

"The ACA goes a long way toward leveling the playing field for LGBT Americans to get access to quality and affordable healthcare. The LGBT community is disproportionately affected by certain conditions for which insurance companies routinely denied or discontinued coverage before the enactment of the ACA. This ruling upholding the ACA will ensure that all Americans will have better and more affordable healthcare in the future.

"Mitt Romney and the GOP have been adamant that this law is unconstitutional and they were wrong. The individual mandate, which was the centerpiece of the GOP's faux outrage, was originally a Republican idea and now a conservative-leaning court has just upheld it in its entirety. In fact, Mitt Romney himself signed such a provision into law as governor of Massachusetts. This is one Etch-a-Sketch moment Mitt Romney cannot shake away."

NYC City Council Speaker Christine Quinn

"The Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act is great news for our City, State and Nation. Now that the Supreme Court has recognized the right to universal access to affordable health care, it is time for the extreme right to drop their attacks and start working constructively to help meet the law's principal objectives - providing all Americans with access to the best health care in the world, while bringing down the costs of our health care system."

Congressional candidate Trevor Thomas

Democratic congressional candidate Trevor Thomas (MI-3) issued a statement in support of the Supreme Court's ruling, and condemning Rep. Justin Amash's reaction to the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act. Amash, who has claimed to be a champion of the Constitution, expressed disappointment that conservative Justice John Roberts sided with more liberal justices in upholding the Act in its entirety. "Unfortunately, looks like Chief Justice Roberts upholds individual mandate as a tax," Amash tweeted Thursday morning.

"As so many without health insurance celebrate the ruling of the Supreme Court, Justin Amash took to Twitter to call the decision 'unfortunate.'" said Thomas. "This shows once again that Amash is out of touch with the values and challenges facing West Michigan residents. We need a representative who will be a champion for those without access to health care."

Garden State Equality Chair Steven Goldstein

"We are breathing a stunned sigh of relief at the U.S. Supreme Court's decision largely to uphold the Affordable Care Act. The Court said the law is constitutional based on Congress' taxation powers, not under the Commerce Clause. We'll take it. Had the law been overturned, the Court would have plunged the nation into a dark moment in history - not only for health care, but also for the civil rights of LGBT people, women and other persecuted communities.

"Repeal of the Affordable Care Act - which again, thankfully did not happen - would have had a brutal impact on LGBT people in New Jersey and in every other jurisdiction without marriage equality. LGBT families already endure a tough time getting health care coverage through insurance companies that refuse to recognize their relationships.

"The law has several provisions prohibiting health insurers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or a person's having HIV or AIDS. Our transgender sisters and brothers have endured enough suffering at the hands of insurance companies who do not want to cover their medically necessary care. Repeal of the law would have compounded the discrimination they face. And we are thrilled for our sisters and brothers in the HIV community, for whom the law expanded access to testing, prevention and treatment.

"As Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said, LGBT people "face numerous barriers to health--from providers who don't understand their unique health needs to difficulty getting health insurance because they can't get coverage through a partner or spouse. The Affordable Care Act may represent the strongest foundation we have ever created to begin closing LGBT health disparities."

"For the entire nation and especially for its oppressed communities, including the LGBT community, today's ruling represents a thankful moment in history."

NGLTF Executive Director Rea Carey

"This ruling is a victory for millions of people - including LGBT people and our families - who don't have access to adequate, affordable health care. Health care reform is about revamping a severely broken system to help everyone get a fair shake when it comes to keeping themselves and their families healthy and out of harm's way. It is about making sure everyone has access to affordable health care when faced with injury and illness. It is based on the premise that no one get hung out to dry - to literally die in some cases - because they were denied affordable health care in one of the richest countries in the world.

"This ruling is fair and humane, but it also reminds us of the work that remains to be done. People of color and economically impoverished people are disproportionately affected by health inequities. We have also long known that LGBT people - particularly LGBT people of color - suffer from higher rates of health disparities, and we continue to press for reform that addresses the stark realities that many of us face every day. This advocacy includes urging the Department of Health and Human Services to use its authority to make inroads in areas such as data collection and research on LGBT health disparities. We celebrate today, but also pledge to keep pressing forward."

Log Cabin Republicans

Today's ruling by the United States Supreme Court upholding Obamacare is a license for Washington to continue its expansion into the lives of American citizens and businesses. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, "Simply put, Congress may tax and spend."

"By upholding even the most intrusive provision of Obamacare, the individual mandate, the court has enabled Washington's addiction to big government and coercive taxes," said Christian Berle, Log Cabin Republicans Deputy Executive Director. "The individual mandate forced through Congress was an unprecedented expansion of federal power in blatant disregard of the will of the American people. Log Cabin looks forward to working with our Republican allies in Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with real, market-driven reforms that will lower costs while preserving the standard of care Americans deserve.

Log Cabin Republicans also have not forgotten that Democrats in Congress stripped provisions protecting LGBT families out of healthcare reform when it was passed. We remain committed to ending the Internal Revenue Service's discriminatory treatment of employer-provided healthcare for domestic partners. While the Court may have found Obamacare to be constitutional, that does not mean it has been carved in stone. Now is the time to go back to the drawing board and institute reforms that work for all Americans."

Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director for Lambda Legal

"This is a victory for all Americans, but in particular, the Court's decision today will save the lives of many people living with HIV - as long as states do the right thing. The Affordable Care Act will finally allow people living with HIV to access medical advancements made years ago but that have so far remained out of reach of many. With continuing prevention education, early detection, and quality care for everyone living with HIV, we have the power to stem the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

"But this is not a complete victory, because today's decision allows states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion that would provide insurance coverage for many low-income people who cannot otherwise afford it. Our continuing challenge will be to make sure that states opt to expand Medicaid so that more low-income people, and particularly those with HIV, can get the health care they urgently need."

One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing

"Today's Supreme Court ruling upholds the values of fairness and justice and is a huge step forward in the fight for equality for LGBT Americans. The dream of being able to protect your family and to live a healthy life should not be a political football and is something every American should be able to access regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Unequal access to healthcare is a roadblock to full equality for LGBT Americans. Statistics show that only 57% of transgender Americans have health insurance compared to approximately 82% of heterosexual adults and 77% of LGB adults. And as many as two million children living in LGBT families face significant challenges to accessing adequate healthcare as a result of bias, stigma, and barriers to access. The Affordable Care Act goes a long way to addressing these serious health inequalities that continue to deny LGBT Americans equality under the law.

While we celebrate today's ruling, we know that we still have a lot of work to do to decrease health disparities in this country. One Iowa will continue to fight for full implementation of the law and access to Medicaid for society's most vulnerable citizens including low-income Americans, people of color, and LGBT people and their families."

Executive Director of the National Coalition for LGBT Health Hutson W. Inniss

"Today's ruling upholds critical protections for LGBT people and their families. We celebrate this ruling and the benefits it will have in improving access to quality, affordable health care for LGBT people without discrimination. There is no doubt that this law will hugely benefit LGBT people in the coming years."

Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project

"The Trevor Project is grateful that the Supreme Court upheld the important provision in the Affordable Care Act that will enable millions of Americans, including at-risk LGBTQ youth to gain access to healthcare coverage."

Family Equality Council Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler

"Today's ruling, upholding the key provisions of the law, is incredible news for our families - especially the more than 80,000 young adult children of LGBT parents who have been given access to health insurance through the expansion of care under the Affordable Care Act. We know that parents who are LGBT and raising children in our country are more likely to live in poverty and not have access to affordable healthcare. These are the families who will benefit the most from the law."

HRC President Chad Griffin

"The Supreme Court's decision means millions of Americans - including many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families - will be better served by our nation's healthcare system. The Affordable Care Act addresses a number of the barriers LGBT people face in obtaining health insurance, from financial barriers to obtaining affordable coverage to discrimination by insurance carriers and healthcare providers. While there is a great deal more that must be done to ensure that the health needs of all LGBT people are fully met throughout the healthcare system, today's decision is an important victory in the fight for healthcare equality."

Victor Barnes, Interim President and CEO AIDS United

"AIDS United applauds the Supreme Court, for upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and maintaining the path to an AIDS-free America. The ACA will strongly benefit the 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in our country. The provisions rightly upheld by today's decision will help millions of people gain access to affordable health insurance markets including subsidized health insurance for many uninsured and underinsured individuals, expand Medicaid coverage to all people whose income is at or below 133% of the federal poverty level (subject to state participation), and expand patient protections that prevent discrimination and denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions. Tens of thousands of people living with HIV will now have greater access to prevention, treatment and care including life saving drugs. "Other important provisions that benefit people living with HIV/AIDS include rules that prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people living with HIV or other pre-existing conditions, and setting annual and lifetime caps on the dollar value of insurance coverage. Young adults under 26 will continue to have the option of coverage under parental insurance plans. Access to drug coverage and preventive benefits will improve. AIDS United, through its grantmaking, technical assistance and advocacy initiatives will continue to support nearly 400 community-based organizations and partnership networks to use health care reform to help people with HIV/AIDS connect to life-saving prevention, care and treatment. "AIDS United is concerned that the Supreme Court allows states to opt out of the needed Medicaid expansion. To end HIV in the United States, the states should accept the planned Medicaid expansion. Now that it is clear that the Act is Constitutional, AIDS United calls on lawmakers in the states and in Congress to pull together and fully implement it. "The end to HIV in the United States is in our sight. The Supreme Court's ruling upholds the ACA'S pivotal provisions that keep us on the course that has been outlined by the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy and by the significant treatment and prevention advances that we've seen over the last year.

"It is time to move forward. AIDS United will work with our allies against all new efforts to repeal or weaken the law of the land. Now it is up to Congress and the states. AIDS United calls for an end to partisan bickering about the ACA, and urges swift, decisive movement forward to implement the most important legislation ever passed for people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States."

National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling

"All the time, people tell me that their health care coverage has been denied or cancelled because they are trans or are living with HIV. Others tell me about doctors who refused to see them because they are trans. Fortunately, the Court looked at the health of our country with fairness and upheld the law ending the practice of denying or dropping coverage for pre-existing conditions and allowing other key provisions to take effect."

President and Chief Executive Officer of Fenway Health Dr. Stephen Boswell

"The Affordable Care Act represents an historical step toward improving the health of the American people, as important as the creation of Medicaid and Medicare 47 years ago. We commend the Supreme Court for upholding the right of our elected representatives--our Congress and President--to address these critical issues. The Court's decision upholds important protections against discrimination in healthcare delivery and helps ensure access to life-saving care and services for many Americans, including LGBT people and people living with HIV/AIDS," said Fenway Health President & CEO Stephen L. Boswell, MD.

"The Affordable Care Act provides the LGBT community in parts of the country that don't recognize same-sex relationships with more affordable insurance options and provides support for preventative care and HIV testing, treatment and prevention services. It also prohibits insurance companies from canceling coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, including for people living with HIV. The Affordable Care Act also provides resources to expand community-based care to help meet our country's growing healthcare needs and to provide more access to primary care providers in the hopes of keeping people healthier and cutting down on expensive emergency room visits and hospitalizations."

(Healthcare graphic via Bigstock)

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