The Decision

It’s been a busy year for Health Forward and our grantees. Before we bid farewell to an eventful year, our Health Forward associates take a look back at significant events and projects that helped make 2012 a productive year. On day one of our year in review, Health Forward Communications Officer Jennifer Sykes looks back on the decision by The Supreme Court of the United States on the Affordable Care Act.

Where were you at 10:00 a.m. on June 28, 2012? At first, that date may not seem familiar to you, but chances are, you were likely listening to the radio, tuned in to network TV news, following journalists and news agencies on Twitter or perhaps online following the SCOTUS blog.

There have been many moments in recent years where we as a nation have tuned in to the news through our TVs, radios and the Internet, waiting for the outcome of a legal decision. Remember the OJ verdict? Decision 2000? What about Casey Anthony in Florida, and Amanda Knox in Italy?

But on June 28, 2012, a decision would be made by our highest court – the Supreme Court of the United States of America – that would have far reaching impact on the state of health care in our country.

It was a Thursday morning when Justice John Roberts stepped out and rendered the SCOTUS decision on the legality of the Affordable Care Act
(ACA), known to many as Obamacare. Advocates for both sides of the issue surrounded the steps of the Supreme Court. They rang bells, beat drums and helped up signs. Some read, “We Love Obamacare” others said, “Strike down the mandate.” Chants could be heard blocks away.

The decision at first wasn’t clear. Some news stations infamously reported the individual mandate was “killed.” Although it took hours, if not days, to truly understand the fine print of the ruling, it quickly became evident that the ACA had passed the Supreme Court litmus test.

The ruling upheld the individual insurance requirement that is at the heart of the ACA. It did however restrict a major portion of the law- the expansion of Medicaid. The ruling gives states flexibility to not expand their Medicaid programs without facing financial penalties.

Some rejoiced; others threatened to secede from the country. Feelings were strong on both sides of this legislation. And, although the highest court in the land had deemed the legislation constitutional, the ultimate fate of the ACA hinged on the result of the November elections.

But come November, the electorate reinforced the SCOTUS decision by re-electing President Obama to a second term.

So what happens now? It is time we support and begin to implement this legislation. Is it perfect? No. Will changes be needed? Of course. But what it is is a start to improving what is a broken system of health care in our country.

As we look ahead on the year to come, my wish for 2013 is that our leaders in both Missouri and Kansas put aside partisanship and instead, put the health of their citizens first. They need to give this legislation a chance to work by creating state insurance exchanges and to expand Medicaid.

The Decision has been made. Now it’s time to move on and work together to improve our health care system.

Health Reform

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