Date: June 28, 2012
Contact: Jennifer Sykes
KANSAS CITY, MO – In a landmark ruling, the United States Supreme Court today upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The federal law, passed by Congress in 2010, is a critical step in improving our health care system. The court’s action today affirms the legality of the ACA and paves the way for full implementation.
“Our health care system is broken, and the ACA has components which, if implemented thoughtfully by Missouri and Kansas lawmakers, have the opportunity to do some real good,” said Steve Roling, President/CEO of the Health Forward Foundation (Health Forward).
Components of the ACA that have been or will now be implemented include:
Prevention. The health reform law rebalances a system that has largely focused on treatment instead of prevention.
Patient-focused. Under the ACA, health insurance works better for patients with more affordable rates, guaranteed coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions and removal of coverage limits.
Fairness. The individual mandate brings increased fairness to our health care system by having all individuals pay into the system, which helps keep costs down, and ensures people are not forced to pay more for health insurance based on their gender, health status, or occupation.
Quality. The ACA moves the health care system towards a systematic approach of measuring the quality and efficiency of health care by paying providers for better health outcomes, and encouraging medical service coordination through electronic health records.
Affordability. The ACA makes health insurance affordable to more through premium tax credits to help with the purchase of insurance.
Medicare. Medicare is strengthened under the ACA. Seniors will continue to benefit from the closure of the prescription drug “donut hole,” removal of co-pays for preventive services, and personalized prevention plans.
Exchanges. Through a health insurance exchange, those individuals and small businesses in Kansas and Missouri will be able to easily compare and purchase quality, affordable insurance that helps meet their needs. It is vital that our policymakers build a robust exchange that will meet the needs of everyone.
The Supreme Court also ruled on a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their federal funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.
The Urban Institute reports that 272,000 non-elderly Missourians would be eligible under the Medicaid expansion and 118,00 non-elderly Kansans would be eligible.
“The legal questions surrounding the ACA have been answered. The practical implications for Kansas and Missouri are unclear as today’s ruling provides flexibility for states in expanding their Medicaid programs,” said Roling. “We support the federal law as it pertains to the expansion of Medicaid and hope that Missouri and Kansas will comply with the provisions under the ACA.”
In addition to Medicaid expansion, Missouri and Kansas have a number of important decisions to make to be in compliance with the law including:
Establish a robust health insurance exchange
Educate our community about opportunities available through the law
Encourage healthy behaviors
Roling said, “As a Foundation whose mission is to eliminate barriers to health for the uninsured and underserved, we hope that our state officials can work in a bi-partisan manner to continue the dialogue and implement these innovative approaches that will improve the health of our community.”