Moments ago the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in a series of legal challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, upholding the historic law passed in the last Congress to reform our nation’s healthcare system. As part of that reform, the Act created or paved the way for important new protections for and investments in the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people – among them nondiscrimination in accessing healthcare in the individual market, collection of critical LGBT health data, and an end to barriers to care for people with pre-existing conditions like HIV/AIDS. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin issued the following statement:
“The Supreme Court’s decision means millions of Americans – including many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families – will be better served by our nation’s healthcare system. The Affordable Care Act addresses a number of the barriers LGBT people face in obtaining health insurance, from financial barriers to obtaining affordable coverage to discrimination by insurance carriers and healthcare providers. While there is a great deal more that must be done to ensure that the health needs of all LGBT people are fully met throughout the healthcare system, today’s decision is an important victory in the fight for healthcare equality.”
This ruling is a victory for millions of people — including LGBT people and our families — who don’t have access to adequate, affordable health care. Health care reform is about revamping a severely broken system to help everyone get a fair shake when it comes to keeping themselves and their families healthy and out of harm’s way. It is about making sure everyone has access to affordable health care when faced with injury and illness. It is based on the premise that no one get hung out to dry — to literally die in some cases — because they were denied affordable health care in one of the richest countries in the world.
This ruling is fair and humane, but it also reminds us of the work that remains to be done. People of color and economically impoverished people are disproportionately affected by health inequities. We have also long known that LGBT people — particularly LGBT people of color — suffer from higher rates of health disparities, and we continue to press for reform that addresses the stark realities that many of us face every day. This advocacy includes urging the Department of Health and Human Services to use its authority to make inroads in areas such as data collection and research on LGBT health disparities. We celebrate today, but also pledge to keep pressing forward.
In a decision released today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld key provisions in the Affordable Care Act. Lambda Legal issued the following statement from Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director for Lambda Legal:
“This is a victory for all Americans, but in particular, the Court’s decision today will save the lives of many people living with HIV – as long as states do the right thing. The Affordable Care Act will finally allow people living with HIV to access medical advancements made years ago but that have so far remained out of reach of many. With continuing prevention education, early detection, and quality care for everyone living with HIV, we have the power to stem the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“But this is not a complete victory, because today’s decision allows states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion that would provide insurance coverage for many low-income people who cannot otherwise afford it. Our continuing challenge will be to make sure that states opt to expand Medicaid so that more low-income people, and particularly those with HIV, can get the health care they urgently need.”
Having been an advocate of healthcare reform for over 20 years and representing the legal interests of people with HIV from the start of the epidemic, Lambda Legal submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in this case which supported the federal government’s position that the ACA’s minimum coverage requirement (also known as the individual mandate) is constitutional.
The following organizations are listed as signatories in the amicus brief: AIDS United, Asian and Pacific-Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS (APICHA), Black AIDS Institute, Center for HIV Law and Policy, Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA), Latino Commission on AIDS, National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA), National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), National Native American AIDS Prevention Center (NNAAPC), U.S. Positive Women’s Network/WORLD, and Treatment Access Expansion Project (TAEP).
Lambda Legal’s HIV Project Director, Scott Schoettes, and Director of Constitutional Litigation, Susan Sommer, were joined as counsel on the brief by Ropes & Gray LLP attorneys Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, Bradley Grossman, Brendon Carrington, and Jacob Heller.
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research on Thursday applauded the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold major portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which will improve access to health care for thousands of Americans living with HIV/AIDS and advance progress toward achieving National HIV/AIDS Strategy goals.
“Today the Supreme Court announced a decision that will bring us closer to achieving the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, including providing access to treatment for thousands of people living with HIV who are not receiving this lifesaving care,” said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. “By expanding coverage and banning the denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions, many thousands more people will have access to essential HIV prevention and treatment services.”
According to the White House, fewer than one in five American (17 percent) living with HIV/AIDS have private insurance, and nearly 30 percent do not have any coverage. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy, unveiled in 2010, calls for expanded access to treatment for people living with HIV and broader delivery of prevention and testing services to those who are especially vulnerable to HIV infection.
“Health reform is the game changer in this epidemic,” said amfAR Vice President and Director of Public Policy Chris Collins. “Now it is critical that all state governments embrace federal funding that will expand their Medicaid programs, ensuring that lower-income people in the U.S. have access to the care they need.”
Today, the US Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the individual mandate for coverage. National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis issued the following statement:
“The Supreme Court did the right thing today in upholding the entirety of the Affordable Care Act and we applaud their reasoned decision. Healthcare is a significant piece of the American economy and a basic human right. This ruling ensures that millions of uninsured Americans will get access to healthcare and that no one will get a free ride.
“The ACA goes a long way toward leveling the playing field for LGBT Americans to get access to quality and affordable healthcare. The LGBT community is disproportionately affected by certain conditions for which insurance companies routinely denied or discontinued coverage before the enactment of the ACA. This ruling upholding the ACA will ensure that all Americans will have better and more affordable healthcare in the future.
“Mitt Romney and the GOP have been adamant that this law is unconstitutional and they were wrong. The individual mandate, which was the centerpiece of the GOP’s faux outrage, was originally a Republican idea and now a conservative-leaning court has just upheld it in its entirety. In fact, Mitt Romney himself signed such a provision into law as governor of Massachusetts. This is one Etch-a-Sketch moment Mitt Romney cannot shake away.”
National Center For Lesbian Rights executive director Kate Kendall:
Today is a banner day for all Americans who care about fixing our broken healthcare system. By upholding the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court has ensured that millions of uninsured people will finally gain access to affordable care and enable the federal government to begin addressing the shameful disparities that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people face in gaining access to healthcare. At the same time, the Court’s ruling puts the healthcare of low-income people at risk. Much work remains to be done to ensure that all Americans have access to quality care.
This morning, the United States Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate, the centerpiece of Obamacare, as constitutional. In response, Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director of GOProud – a national organization of gay and straight Americans seeking to promote freedom by supporting free markets, limited government, and a respect for individual rights – issued the following statement.
“Today, the Supreme Court has ignored the Constitution and given the federal government unfettered and unchecked power. Today is a good day for big government and a bad day for individual liberty.
“This decision reminds us of how important it is to elect conservatives to the House, Senate and the White House that will protect our individual liberties, because it is clear that the Supreme Court is unwilling to do so.
“Free market healthcare reform would expand access to domestic partner benefits and put gay people in charge of their healthcare decisions. By upholding Obamacare, the Supreme Court has upheld legislation that hurts all Americans, but especially hurts gay and lesbian families.”
Today’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court upholding Obamacare is a license for Washington to continue its expansion into the lives of American citizens and businesses. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “Simply put, Congress may tax and spend.”
“By upholding even the most intrusive provision of Obamacare, the individual mandate, the court has enabled Washington’s addiction to big government and coercive taxes,” said Christian Berle, Log Cabin Republicans Deputy Executive Director. “The individual mandate forced through Congress was an unprecedented expansion of federal power in blatant disregard of the will of the American people. Log Cabin looks forward to working with our Republican allies in Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with real, market-driven reforms that will lower costs while preserving the standard of care Americans deserve.
Log Cabin Republicans also have not forgotten that Democrats in Congress stripped provisions protecting LGBT families out of healthcare reform when it was passed. We remain committed to ending the Internal Revenue Service’s discriminatory treatment of employer-provided healthcare for domestic partners. While the Court may have found Obamacare to be constitutional, that does not mean it has been carved in stone. Now is the time to go back to the drawing board and institute reforms that work for all Americans.”
Video of Mitt Romney’s speech: