A Step in the Right Direction: The Affordable Care Act is upheld
by Samuel Nelson, Student Labor Action Project & Caring Across Generations Organizer
In a major victory for health care advocates, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision upheld not only the individual mandate, but every aspect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act save for the power of the federal government being able to terminate states’ Medicaid funds. The mandate has been interpreted by the Court as a legal tax, with Chief Justice Roberts, who was appointed by George W. Bush in 2005, writing the opinion. The upholding of the entire act means insurance companies cannot raise premiums without cause, cannot deny people with preexisting conditions, and with the insurance exchange, it means reduced costs overall for millions of individuals and families across the country. The ruling is particularly good for seniors, who will benefit from more affordable prescription drugs and increased access to free preventative services.
"This is a great step in changing the way we care for our aging population, people with disabilities and each other when faced with illness,” said Caring Across Generations co-director Ai-jen Poo. “The political naysayers who said the ACA was too confusing are stuck in the status quo, and scared of the challenge to make sure we all have the supports and care we need to be healthy and happy, as a country. Now we can move forward to address the looming challenge of our aging population.”
While the ACA is a major step forward for health care in the United States, problems still remain. The Act has not addressed the much larger workforce that will be needed both for the expanded number of people with insurance, but also the aging population. Furthermore the Act continues to leave healthcare in the hands of private insurance companies who have for years profited off the backs of their customers. While Medicare and Medicaid have only moderated risen in cost the past 50 years, private health costs have skyrocketed to almost $3 trillion.
We need a more comprehensive solution that will encompass both jobs and health care. Caring Across Generations is striving for that, to ensure that those workers in the care sector are not left behind and provide for their families and get treated with respect, to make sure that seniors and people with disabilities are not left to the fringes of society and are treated with dignity.
The Affordable Care Act is a great step forward, but it is not the final step. There are more years of hard fights ahead to change care in this country. We must stand together to see our vision of more caring society move forward. That is why we needed the Affordable Care Act, and that is why we cannot leave it at the Affordable Care Act. For workers, seniors, and people with disabilities, we most certainly cannot leave it at the Affordable Care Act. As Ai-jen Poo has said on the ruling today, “We can create more jobs in America, address the health care needs of aging baby boomers and raise the standard of living for in home care workers all at the same time. We can re-found our American commitment to ensuring we all have the freedom of choice. The choice to be able to age at home, and the choice to paid a fair wage for a hard day’s work,”