Today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA). West Virginians for Affordable Care put out this statement on the Court’s decision. The stakes were high; West Virginia families are on the winning side in this ruling. As our statement shares:
- VICTORY: 198,000 West Virginians no longer face the risk of losing affordable health insurance coverage, that would have led to a 181% increase in the uninsured rate in our state.
- VICTORY: Even a conservative study found more than 380,000 West Virginians have a declinable pre-existing condition under the harsh and discriminatory practices of insurance companies before the passage of the Affordable Care Act. These West Virginians and many more with pre-existing conditions will no longer risk insurance coverage denials or offers of insurance with very high premiums and with exclusion riders that left insurance plans with more holes than covered services.
- VICTORY: West Virginia will not lose $1.1 billion in federal funds supporting Medicaid/CHIP care and Marketplace subsidies. Funds that make insurance coverage affordable and stimulates our state economy and creates jobs.
It is about time that the ten years of Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act – in Congress and in the courts – comes to a close. Just to be clear, while I am an attorney, it doesn’t take a law school degree to understand Justice Breyer’s opinion (joined by 7 of the total 9 Supreme Court Justices). Justice Breyer’s opinion in lay terms amounts to this: Get oughta our courtroom and stop with the b.s. You are not hurt by this law. Lots of people are helped by this law.
Finally working folks in our state and across the country are no longer being used as partisan political pawns. This lawsuit was brought by Republican State Attorney Generals from across the country, including West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Two of those Republican Attorney Generals had the backbone to pull their support from the case. As our statement illustrates, no state and its people have gained more from the ACA. Yet Attorney General Morrisey refused to reconsider his attack on the law. No Attorney General should let partisan politics guide him; the office is there to look out for the best interests of the people of the state.
Today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s protections will guarantee that tens of millions of families have real, meaningful health insurance that provides them access to critical health care services and protects their financial security. Nationally, 9 million people will continue to receive premium tax credits that help them afford coverage. Tens of millions of Americans with preexisting conditions will continue to be protected from health insurance company discrimination and will not be charged more based on their health. And, because the ACA is still the law of the land, over 12 million people qualify for Medicaid, including adults who can’t work due to disability, families with low wages, and those that have lost jobs and income.
So what now?
Now that the Supreme Court has blown away the cloud over the ACA, it is time for Congress to turn to building on and improving the Affordable Care Act.
Indeed, that is exactly what Congress voted to do on March 11th of this year when the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed to provide financial relief to American families hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Rescue Plan’s temporary improvements to the Affordable Care Act’s premium tax credit made coverage more accessible and affordable on healthcare.gov for more hard-working West Virginia families:
- The ARPA lowered premium costs for 17,000 West Virginians. According to the HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, the ARPA raised the proportion of West Virginians in the marketplace who can buy insurance for $50 a month or less from 36% to 64%. This increase was the highest affordability gain of any state.
- Almost 4,000 uninsured West Virginians became eligible for free health insurance coverage.
What stands in the way of making the temporary larger tax credits and lower premiums at healthcare.gov permanent?
Arguably the biggest barrier to Congressional action is West Virginia’s own Senator Joe Manchin.
Senator Manchin insists that the Senate should not pass legislation if 10 Republican Senators will not join 50 Democrats and vote for a bill. While I do respect the notion of bipartisanship and the importance of working across the aisle, Senator Manchin is being naïve about the state of national politics. I can say more about that – but I won’t here.
What I do want to say is that we need to urge Senator Manchin to consider the importance of voting on the merits of a policy – whether 10 Republicans are willing to vote yea or nay on a bill or legislative package that reflects good policy.
We need to urge Senator Manchin to publicly stand up for lower premiums on healthcare.gov. Bring along 10 Republicans if he can. If not, then he should be ready to vote yea without them. West Virginian working families deserve to have affordable health insurance options. This isn’t a matter of Republicans versus Democrats; this is a matter of voting with West Virginians who want to stay healthy and take care of themselves and their families. It is a matter of voting for good policy for our state and our people.
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