UCC justice leaders praise Affordable Care Act decision
The Affordable Care Act scores another major victory, as the U.S. Supreme Court upholds key parts of the law. Leaders of the United Church of Christ are commending the justices’ decision, announced on Thursday, June 25, in the case King v. Burwell that will continue to provide working and low-income Americans access to affordable coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
“Without those subsidies, lower-income Americans who don’t qualify for Medicaid or don’t have access to an employer-sponsored health plan would lose this life-giving health care coverage,” said Sandy Sorensen, director of the UCC Justice and Witness Ministries office in Washington, D.C. “At stake are individual lives and the overall health of our society. We are all ultimately impacted when quality, affordable health care is not accessible to all.”
In the majority opinion, the justices said that, “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.”
“The Affordable Care Act is an important step in addressing the glaring racial inequities in health care access and coverage,” said the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister of Justice and Witness Ministries. “The Court’s decision is an encouraging signal that we continue to move toward the moral vision of quality, affordable, accessible health care for all that truly honors the image of God embodied in every person.”
The court’s 6-3 decision means that the federal government can continue to offer financial assistance to people buying health insurance in the 34 states that refused to establish their own marketplaces.
“For decades the United Church Christ, through the witness of the General Synod, has held up the moral vision of quality, affordable, accessible health care for all,” Sorensen continued. “Through the Affordable Care Act, over 15 million Americans who did not previously have access to affordable health care now have health coverage, including young adults and low-income families. Communities of color in particular are overrepresented among the uninsured population and disproportionately face barriers to quality, accessible, affordable health care.”
The question before the Supreme Court wasn’t about the constitutionality of the ACA, but if the federal government can provide a subsidy to someone buying insurance from a state or federal marketplace. Challengers in the case contend that only states can provide subsidies, and if the justices were to agree, it would threaten to raise insurance rates for 7 million people who receive subsidies from the federal government.
In the end, the court decided the government can provide those subsidies, which is a decision that Barbara Baylor, UCC policy advocate for domestic issues, praised the court for recognizing the intent of the law.
“Thank you, U. S. Supreme Court Justices, for looking beyond the political debates and making the right decision for our country,” Baylor said. “Thank you for not putting the health and lives of many at risk. Thank for upholding the health care subsidies.”
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