As the Supreme Court arguments regarding health care reform draw near, Americans are all considering the impact that the Affordable Care Act has had on them and their communities. We are also thinking about how the Supreme Court’s decision, expected in June, could further impact our health. The Affordable Care Act’s main purpose is to reform the broken health care system in the U.S. so that millions of people are not forced to forgo necessary health care due to financial limitations.
As a student of public health and as an attorney, I am highly interested in the success of the Affordable Care Act, but I am also interested on it on a more personal level, as an individual with a pre-existing condition. My condition has been a factor in obtaining affordable health insurance my entire life and the Affordable Care Act has brought me one step closer to overcoming insurance companies’ routine discrimination against those with serious illness. Insurance companies become an altogether new and dangerous entity to those with chronic illness or who have a child with chronic illness. Blockading essential health care for yourself or your child is part of how insurance companies in the past have saved money so that they can add to their profits; our system made it easy to do so. Pre-existing condition coverage is only one way that the Affordable Care Act aims to fix the injustices of the previous health care system.
Professionally, I believe that the law is not only necessary but also constitutional. It focuses on preventive care, which has been shown to significantly lower the cost of health insurance for individuals, families and communities. Providing coverage to those who have been in the Medicaid “doughnut hole,” who previously would not automatically qualify for Medicaid, will lower uninsured emergency room costs and will decrease suffering amongst poverty-stricken individuals, especially those who have chronic illnesses or who wait too long for treatment due to being under- or uninsured. Helping those in the “doughnut hole” will also increase preventive care for those who have been unable to afford it in the past due to skyrocketing health costs and lack of insurance. Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act increases quality management of insurance services so that every American has better insurance choices. Private companies should not have a largely unfettered say in citizens’ health.
As an attorney, I do not believe that the law violates the Constitution or, more specifically, the Commerce Clause, and at least one Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed (D.C. Circuit; Senior Circuit Judge Silberman). In addition, I believe that the Medicaid expansion within the Affordable Care Act is justified and not as burdensome as some states would have the public believe. Is it not burdensome to treat growing numbers of uninsured or underinsured, who will never pay, in emergency rooms, where most receive care? Many other first-world countries treat health care as a right, and yet the United States is still attempting to persist in treating it as a commodity. That is simply unacceptable.
Kathryn Fox, intern,
Montana Organizing Project