Courts split on ACA; consumer protections still in place…

As expected, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled today to challenge the Affordable Care Act.

Overall, twelve judges have thrown out cases on the constitutionality of the health reform law. Of those two upheld the law. One judge in Virginia struck down just one provision. This Florida judge is the only one to challenge the full law.

Judge Vinson has produced a stunningly ideological and extreme opinion (that even invoked Tea Party rhetoric), legislating from the bench to reopen the health care debate by going well beyond precedent. Fortunately, the judge’s partisan findings are of limited impact because the U.S. Supreme Court will have the final say on the legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Two other federal district judges have already upheld the law.

Californians should be clear that they still have their new benefits, new health coverage options, and new consumer protections under the federal health law. Even this judge has allowed the implementation of health reform to continue, so California should continue to prepare, especially as it is likely the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold the full law.

Congress clearly has the authority to regulate the health insurance market, including protecting consumers from insurance industry abuses and reducing costs for families, seniors and businesses.

Californians already are benefiting from this law. Without the law in place, young adults would lose their coverage under their parents’ coverage; millions would be subject to lifetime caps on health plan benefits and no limits on the share of premiums that could go to profits, executive pay and overhead; seniors would be forced to pay a co-payment for important preventive services, including an annual checkup.

A full report on the status of the implementation of the federal law in California is at the Health Access website, at:
http://www.health-access.org/files/advocating/ACA%209%20Month%20CA%20Status%20Report%2012-19-10.pdf

For Californians, we’ve seen this before: The groundbreaking Healthy San Francisco law was challenged by a lower court ruling, but was eventually upheld on appeals all the way through the Supreme Court. While the legal issues were different, we expect a similar result–that the health reform law will be upheld and California will be able to get the new options and benefits from the law.

What’s important for patients to know is that the consumer protections under the new federal law are still in place, and are likely to stay. The implementation of the new federal law will and should continue, especially in California, where we need all the help with our health system we can get.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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