Statement from the REACH Foundation President and CEO
Today, June 28, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold the federal health reform law that was passed in 2010.
The Affordable Care Act’s most controversial provision, the individual mandate that requires people to purchase health insurance, was upheld. Five of the nine Supreme Court Justices agreed that the penalty someone must pay by refusing to buy health insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. Because the individual mandate was upheld, the Supreme Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.
Kansas was among the 26 states that joined in lawsuits challenging the law’s constitutionality, maintaining that the individual mandate was overreaching and that the law’s provisions expanding Medicaid coverage were coercive to states.
There are a number of policy questions that still need to be answered following today’s ruling. While the Affordable Care Act has sparked much discussion and debate since its passage, the REACH Healthcare Foundation has supported effective implementation of the health care law because our organization believes that the law provides a framework for making needed improvements to the nation’s system of health care delivery. Given our mandate to ensure access to health care and eliminate barriers that negatively impact health, it is our hope that state policy leaders in Kansas and Missouri will move forward on thoughtful and effective implementation of the provisions of the law.
Brenda R. Sharpe, President and CEO, REACH Healthcare Foundation