WASHINGTON, D.C –- Mayor Vincent C. Gray today welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius and related cases, which upholds the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. The decision leaves President Obama’s health-care-reform law intact and helps expand health coverage to millions of Americans who need it.
“We are delighted that the Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act,” Mayor Gray said. “While the District already leads the nation in access to care, we will continue moving forward to ensure that every District resident has access to quality, affordable health care.”
The Supreme Court ruled that the ACA, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. The mandate dictated that nearly all Americans obtain health insurance or pay a fine. That mandate was upheld under the federal government’s power to levy taxes rather than under the government’s power to regulate interstate commerce. The Court’s majority emphasized that individuals can choose to pay the small penalty rather than buy insurance.
The ruling put some limits on the law’s plan to expand the Medicaid insurance program for the poor, a joint effort of the federal government and the states. It says the U.S. government cannot threaten to withhold a state’s entire Medicaid allotment if the state refuses to participate in the expansion.
The District is not at risk of losing any Medicaid funding as a result of this ruling, because District officials have already begun implementation of the ACA’s Medicaid-expansion provisions and will continue to implement the expansion.
“Today's decision by the Court affirms the District's longstanding efforts to ensure access to quality health care for all of its residents without respect to individual income, age or health status – and we will continue to move forward with implementation of this landmark legislation for District residents,” said Wayne Turnage, Director of the Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF) and Chair of the Mayor’s Health Reform Implementation Committee (HRIC).
D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan also welcomed the Court’s ruling. “I commend the historic result in this case upholding the Act – which the District supported in an amicus brief – as an important step forward for the health insurance of all Americans, including residents of the District,” Nathan said. “At the same time, the decision’s Commerce Clause discussion will have to be closely studied for what it may mean in the future for the power of Congress.”
In June, Mayor Gray submitted nominees to lead the District’s Health Benefit Exchange Authority (HBX), which will guide implementation of a crucial part of the ACA – state-level insurance exchanges that will provide health-insurance customers with more choice and buying power in purchasing affordable health-care plans. The nominees are expected to be confirmed by the D.C. Council on July 10, 2012. The authority was created by D.C. Council legislation under the Health Benefit Exchange Authority Establishment Act of 2011 (DC L12-0094).
About the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. The law puts in place comprehensive health-insurance reforms that will hold insurance companies more accountable, lower health-care costs, guarantee more health-care choices and enhance the quality of health care for all Americans.
For more information on health-care-reform implementation in the District, please visit: www.healthreform.dc.gov
To see the Supreme Court's ruling, please visit: http://www.supremecourt.gov/