Houston, TX (PRWEB) June 21, 2012
In the next few days, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Speculation about the impact of that decision has been heating up on both sides of the debate. A significant portion of state health care costs is care for the uninsured. More than six million Texans lack health insurance and the ACA is reported to help approximately 90 percent of those Texans get coverage. Yet fiscal conservatives say the reforms would eat up the federal budget, forcing Washington to push more Medicaid costs to the states.
Legacy Community Healthcare patients will certainly feel the effects. Contact Randall Ellis, Legacy Senior Director of Government Relations for patient stories and reactions to U.S. Supreme Court ruling or to interview Legacy Community Health Services Executive Director Katy Caldwell.
What will the U.S. Supreme Court decision mean for Texans and their ability to access affordable quality care? Health policy experts generally list four possible scenarios for how the Supreme Court might rule and Legacy Community Health Services Executive Director Katy Caldwell comments below:
The Entire Law Remains As Is
Some of the most popular provisions of the ACA—prohibiting annual limits on health insurance and eliminating discrimination against individuals because of a pre-existing conditions, sex, gender, or health status—go into effect January 1, 2014. These provisions will ensure that all Americans can access health insurance and that it provides meaningful coverage. Texas legislators in the 2013 session of the Texas Legislature will be forced to tackle many provisions that left to the states, such as creating a health insurance exchange for the individual market.
Katy Caldwell states, “Because 1 of every 4 Texans is uninsured—the highest uninsured rate in the nation—Texas stands to gain more than any other state in newly covered citizens and federal financial support for new coverage.
The Affordable Care Act will also provide consumer protection in the health insurance market and help transform our system of care from one that pays for units or service to one that pays for quality care and positive outcomes.”
Individual Mandate is Struck Down, but Rest of Law Remains
Under this scenario, the law's most controversial provision―the mandate that everyone must have health insurance or pay a penalty—would be ruled unconstitutional, but everything else in the law―including the insurance market reforms, health insurance exchanges and subsidies for those who can't afford insurance―would remain.
Katy Caldwell states, “The individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Acts is essential to making health care reform cost-effective. Without the individual mandate, healthy people will likely opt to not purchase coverage and less healthy, more costly individuals will be more likely to buy coverage. With an insurance pool consisting of the least healthy, insurance premiums would be driven up in order to cover costs and result in more people dropping coverage.”
Medicaid Expansion is Removed from Law
Striking down the ACA's Medicaid expansion is an unlikely outcome of the Supreme Court challenge. Starting in 2014, the ACA expands Medicaid to cover nearly all people under age 65 with household incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty level ($30,657 for a family of four).
Katy Caldwell states, “Without the Medicaid expansion, more than 1.2 million of our state’s most vulnerable residents will not have health insurance. Texas counties and local hospitals will continue to face the difficulties of dealing with large segments of the population that do not have any insurance coverage, shifting more costs to local taxpayers and those with existing health insurance plans.”
The Entire Law Is Struck Down
If the mandate is found to violate the Constitution and the justices also decide it's too enmeshed in the larger law to be separated, they could overturn the entire law. While this would get rid of the unpopular pieces of the law, the popular ones would be swept aside too.
Katy Caldwell states, “If the entire law is struck down our country must still face the problems of high medical costs, widespread waste, and tens of millions of people without access to quality care. The cost of care for the uninsured will continued to be shifted to local tax payers and those with existing health insurance plans. Our current system has failed millions of Americans and our nation can no longer bear the cost of inaction by our nation’s leaders.”
Legacy is a full-service, Community Health Center that provides comprehensive, primary healthcare services to all Houstonians since the early 1980s. It also provides care for health conditions like HIV/AIDS, chronic diabetes and high blood pressure at no-cost or low-cost healthcare services to nearly 40,000 men, women and children throughout the Houston area.