National Reactions to the High Court Decision Upholding Affordable Care Act, 5-4

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Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.)

“This is an important day for the Supreme Court and an important day for Americans who need affordable health care coverage. But I hope this will also be an important day for our politics and our discourse. For the past three years, opponents of health reform did everything they could to distort and deceive. They tried to scare the American public with outright lies about ‘death panels’ and ‘socialized medicine.’ When that didn’t work, they came up with a new strategy: claim that the individual mandate the Republican Party itself had invented was unconstitutional. Today, the conservative Roberts Court put an end to that debate. Those who have sought to demonize health reform need to put an end to their scare tactics. This needs to begin a new day, where the test is not what you can oppose but what you can propose. Enough time has been wasted in the United States Congress on pointless repeal votes designed to score political points. Too much time has been wasted on a legislative temper tantrum. We need to get back to the business of implementing a constitutional law that will lower health care costs for everyone and give 33 million Americans the health coverage they deserve.”

Fenway Health President & CEO Stephen L. Boswell, MD

“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.”

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.”

Kate Kendell, Esq., Executive Director, NCLR

“Today is a banner day for all Americans who care about fixing our broken healthcare system. By upholding the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court has ensured that millions of uninsured people will finally gain access to affordable care and enable the federal government to begin addressing the shameful disparities that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people face in gaining access to healthcare. At the same time, the Court’s ruling puts the healthcare of low-income people at risk. Much work remains to be done to ensure that all Americans have access to quality care.”

Allison Francis, Communications Associate, The Theater Offensive

“We strongly support of the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. We’ve seen firsthand through our OUT in Your Neighborhood work how the lack of affordable healthcare disproportionately affects the LGBT population, especially people of color, lower-income families, and those living with HIV. Everyone deserves access to healthcare regardless of class, race, gender identity, & sexual orientation.”

Wilfred Labiosa, CASPAR, Inc. Executive Director

“Today’s decision is a historical one for all of us in the United States. It will be a mandate that will affect positively all of those who need services for their dual diagnosis of a mental health and addiction to substances/alcohol. We won’t see the benefits short-term but we will see it in the months/years to come! Every person with a dual diagnosis will have access to the appropriate care and intervention across every state and region. We applaud the 5 Justices who understand the plan proposed by President Obama. Thank you!”

Rebecca Haag, AIDS Action Committee President & CEO

“Today is a victory for everyone in this country who is living with HIV/AIDS. Massachusetts is leading the country in terms of health outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS. Our state is also a leader in declining HIV transmission rates. What we have learned in Massachusetts is that you cannot end the AIDS epidemic if people with HIV/AIDS do not have access to health care. And today’s ruling by the Supreme Court ensures that millions more Americans, including the 1.2 million living with HIV/AIDS, will have greater access to health care than at any other time in our nation’s history.

“In upholding this law, the US Supreme Court has finally closed the door on attempts by health insurance companies to refuse coverage for people who are HIV positive or have a diagnosis of AIDS, and to limit the amount of money an insurer will spend over a patient’s lifetime for treatment.

“Unfortunately, today’s ruling makes expansion of Medicaid programs to lower-income residents an option by states rather than a requirement. We have learned in Massachusetts that Medicaid expansion is a critical component to ending the transmission of HIV, improving health outcomes, and saving public dollars.

“Since the mid-1990s, Massachusetts has provided health care to poor people living with HIV through its Medicaid program. And since 2006, thanks to the Massachusetts health reform law, nearly everyone in the state is now covered with health insurance. As a result, people living with HIV/AIDS have access to the care they need to stay healthy and keep their HIV viral load low, which helps to reduce the transmission of HIV. Since 1999, we have reduced the rate of HIV transmission by 54 percent, which will save the state more than $2 billion in health care costs.

“In light of these state-by-state inequities in coverage, we call on Congress to continue funding the Ryan White Care Act to ensure that as many people living with HIV/AIDS as possible have access to the health care they need and deserve.

“We have the knowledge and tools to eradicate AIDS in this country, and we are on the cusp of doing so. Today’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court is a momentous step forward in ensuring that this vital work gets done. It is now up to our elected representatives to fully implement the law.”

Gunner Scott, Executive Director, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition

“A major impact of the Court’s decision is the 129 million people with pre-existing conditions and millions of families, including LGBT families, will have the security of affordable health coverage. We have seen this work here in Massachusetts, for example the Department of Public Health’s 2009 survey of LGBT adults found that 98.6%, of gay and lesbian respondents, 94.1%, of bisexual respondents and 92.3% of transgender respondents reporting having private or public health insurance since passage of Massachusetts health care act. In my opinion, this ruling translates into more of our community and our neighbors across the country having the opportunity to stay healthy and get the care they need, all of which positively benefits in our nation as a whole.”

Kara Suffredini, Executive Director, MassEquality

“The decision by the United States Supreme Court is extremely good news for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans, regardless of where they live.

“This groundbreaking health care law holds sweeping reforms for LGBT people who face significant disparities in health and care from our nation’s broken health care system. The Court’s ruling to let this law stand means that the important work taking place to rectify those disparities will continue.”

Craig E. Thompson, Executive Director, AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA)

“APLA has always said that universal health care access is a requisite to ending the AIDS epidemic and to addressing other pressing health care crises facing the nation. The Court’s decision is a key step closer to that goal, ending the enormous disparity dividing public health programs from our undeniable advances in medical treatment and technology.

“People most at risk for HIV, especially young gay men and low-income men and women of color, will now have access to routine healthcare services, including preventive healthcare. Previously, they often never saw doctors or only sought medical treatment in the emergency room, often when the situation was already dire. We know how to prevent HIV infections, and we know how to treat people living with the disease to keep them as healthy and productive as possible. But we can’t do this without healthcare programs that educate people about HIV and provide those living with AIDS with ready access to treatment and care.

“California is already moving forward on healthcare reform, with expansions of Medicaid, coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, and a health care exchange where the uninsured will be able to purchase affordable coverage.  The Supreme Court has given California and the rest of the nation the green light to proceed.  It is a seminal moment in the nation’s effort to extend basic human rights — including the right to healthcare – to all its people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.”

[More Opinions to Come]

To read the story about the historic U.S Supreme Court decision visit TRT. For a Fact Sheet with all you need to know about the Affordable Care Act, check this TRT story.

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