The Supreme Court decision that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is constitutional could facilitate lifelong access to affordable health care for most Americans.
The ACA makes important improvements to Medicare, authorizes funding for prevention programs, expands Medicaid, and ends insurance practices that made insurance unaffordable for people with pre-existing conditions. This ruling puts to rest some of the uncertainty surrounding the future of the ACA.
Those who do not have health care coverage in their working years are more likely to have multiple, chronic, expensive conditions by the time they reach Medicare age. The coverage expansion provisions are critical to healthy aging.
To account for the elimination of lifetime maximum payouts, annual limits, pre-existing conditions exclusions, health status pricing and reductions of age-related pricing in insurance, the ACA includes an individual mandate—requiring everyone to purchase insurance—to make sure that younger healthier people are also part of the insurance market. “B’nai B’rith has long supported comprehensive health care reform. This ruling will help us move forward to ensure lifelong access to affordable health care,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
The individual mandate had been defended as a use of the commerce clause authority as well as a tax preference for those who buy insurance, like tax preferences for those who have children, or buy energy efficient appliances. The court narrowly rejected the commerce argument and treated it as allowable under the taxation power.
Health care reform has already had immediate results for millions of older Americans on Medicare—12 million people have already taken advantage of free Medicare preventive services and Medicare beneficiaries have saved about $3.7 billion on prescription drug costs.
“Seniors have benefited greatly from health care reforms that have already been implemented. A better health care system has economic advantages across the board, and has the potential to make healthy aging a reality for millions of people for whom it had been out of reach,” B’nai B’rith Director of Aging Policy Rachel Goldberg, Ph.D., said.
“The American people deserve to know that this decision is the final word on the ACA. We urge congress to continue to focus on implementation of this vital law,” said B’nai B’rith Associate Executive Vice President Mark D. Olshan, Ph.D.