On November 14th, the Supreme Court announced its decision hear the legal challenge to the new healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This law ensures consumer protects and gives people more options for affordable and comprehensive healthcare plans. Unfortunately, many states – Wisconsin included –have filed lawsuits against the law, stating that it is unconstitutional.
The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH) understands that this announcement comes with many questions regarding where we stand in moving forward with improvements to our healthcare system. With the growing popularity of such provisions such as holding insurance companies more accountable, banning pre-existing condition denials and allowing young adults to remain on their parent’s insurance up to age 26, it is concerning to think about the unknown future of the law.
So, what does this mean? WAWH invites you to a look into where we stand, and what do the challenges mean:
Who? The Supreme Court will hear cases filed in Florida by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
When? The cases are expected to be heard in February or March of 2012 with a decision by the Supreme Court expected to be reached in June 2012.
How? How is the healthcare law being challenged?
- Nearly all lawsuits challenge the health reform law’s individual mandate: The requirement that most individuals purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. Opponents rely on the Commerce Clause, the part of the Constitution that gives the federal government the authority to regulate multi-state, economic activity.
- The other provision being challenged is the state Medicaid expansion: The Medicaid expansion in the law vastly broadens the minimum eligibility requirements for Medicaid, and strengthens federal support for the program. For more on why advocates are particularly upset and shocked by the court hearing this challenge, see this article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/court-review-of-medicaid-expansion-could-have-massive-consequences/2011/11/15/gIQA1LwkSN_story.html?socialreader_check=0&denied=1).
What, what and what? What can the court rule? What does it mean for women’s health?
- Favorably, the court could rule that the new healthcare law is constitutional and it will go forth with implementation. Giving women protections from discrimination and enhancing the care they receive.
- Keep the law, without the individual mandate. Many argue that this is not feasible. Why? If there is no penalty for individuals that do not have insurance, and plans are required to accept anyone – regardless of pre-existing conditions – the market is at potential risk for premiums to increase dramatically. Women being discriminated against for pre-existing conditions has been a long standing healthcare crisis. Therefore, women need the law to maintain strong consumer protections while also preserving its feasibility.
- Two other possibilities include: the court realizes the need for the individual mandate, rules it as unconstitutional, and results in the whole law being repealed. Or, the Court may decide the need to wait for full implementation (2014) of the law before ruling one way or another.
The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, along with many other American’s, hopes to see the continuation of meaningful reforms to our healthcare system. Women’s health depends on these improvements to ensure that all women are getting ample care in a way that is affordable for themselves and their families.