In a historic victory for millions of Americans, the United States Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature domestic policy accomplishment. Most crucially, the Court, by a 5-4 vote, validated the individual mandate. The majority, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, held that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance falls under Congress’ taxing power.
This landmark decision green-lights plans to expand coverage to 32 million Americans and ends the worst insurance company abuses, including discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions.
“Children are the big winners in today’s decision,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “The Supreme Court has ensured that we will never go back to a time when insurance company profits are more important than the health and well-being of our nation’s youngest, most vulnerable citizens.”
Under the law, insurance companies can no longer deny care to children with pre-existing conditions, and all children will continue to have access to cost-free pediatric care. The law also protects young adults by allowing them to stay on their parent’s health insurance until age 26.
“Before Obama’s ACA, too many young people were uninsured and had their lives and education interrupted by insurmountable medical bills and crippling debt,” said Van Roekel. “I know that most parents, like me, are relieved that our children can now begin their adult lives without living in fear that a single illness will derail their future and their success.”
In 2011, as many as 72,000 uninsured children received health care coverage based on this provision in the law. An estimated 3.1 million young adults, ages 19 to 25, were able to enroll in their parents’ health insurance plans thanks to the law.
“We are definitely celebrating this decision,” said Van Roekel. “NEA members know how a child’s education can be affected by illness or lack of regular medical or dental care. We worked closely with the Obama Administration to make sure this law passed, so that tens of thousands of families could no longer be denied insurance.”
Reacting to the decision today, President Obama said: “The highest Court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law. And we’ll work together to improve on it where we can. But what we won’t do — what the country can’t afford to do — is refight the political battles of two years ago, or go back to the way things were.”
NEA’s membership, including teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty, have long been strong supporters of the need for access to quality, affordable and comprehensive health care coverage for all residents of the United States.
While health care reform is vital to the recovery of our nation’s economy, it is also a crucial ingredient for successful public schools. The lack of necessary medical and dental services for children and students of all ages creates a serious impediment to the learning process. In addition, families with access to a regular source of medical care are more likely to keep the entire family healthy and create a better learning environment within the home. By helping public schools attract and retain top-quality educators, health care benefits also play an important role in ensuring great public schools for all students.
For more on the Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court’s ruling, go to EducationVotes.org
For an NEA fact sheet on the Affordable Care Act, please click here.
Click here to tell Congress you oppose any efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.