Landmark health reform law ruling a major public health victory, provisions still require support
Statement from Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA
WASHINGTON, June 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "The American Public Health Association heralds the U.S. Supreme Court ruling announced today upholding the Affordable Care Act, a landmark law enacted in 2010 to dramatically improve the health of all Americans and control health care costs.
"Today's historic ruling by the nation's highest court marks a significant milestone in our national efforts to improve the delivery and financing of health services in the U.S. and to promote health and wellness rather than disease treatment. The Supreme Court's decision allows for long-overdue changes made possible by the law to move forward without question or further delay. The law will bring relief to millions of Americans in addition to those who are already receiving life-saving benefits, including:
- 31 million Americans are projected to gain health coverage by 2019 due to critical upcoming reforms, including the exchanges, exchange subsidies, minimum coverage provision and Medicaid expansion;
- 54 million U.S. families have additional benefits, including greater access to preventive health care services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, such as vaccines and preventive care and screenings for women;
- 2.5 million young adults up to age 26 are able to stay on their parents' health insurance plans;
- nearly 18 million children with pre-existing conditions are protected from insurance coverage denials;
- 3.6 million seniors received 50 percent discounts on their drugs in 2011 as an initial step in closing the "donut hole"; and
- nearly 33 million seniors accessed preventive services now available without cost-sharing through Medicare.
"In upholding these essential reforms, today's decision marks tremendous progress towards reshaping our health system into one that saves the lives of at least 44,000 people who die annually simply because they do not have health insurance that could keep them healthy.
"While we celebrate this major public health victory, we must work to ensure the law reaches its full potential. Specifically, we must continue to protect the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a sound, long-term investment in the future of our nation's health. Through Community Transformation Grants, as part of the fund, $145 million was invested in fiscal year 2011 to help communities reduce chronic disease rates, address health disparities and strengthen prevention efforts. Another $226 million is allocated for fiscal year 2012. The public health community must work to ensure these critical investments are maintained and increased to the full amount no later than 2022.
"Since the law's passage, APHA has been working to engage public health advocates from communities across the country to support and protect the law. As part of its advocacy efforts, APHA was a signatory on two friend-of-the-court briefs with other health groups in support of the law.
"The Supreme Court did the right thing by upholding the Affordable Care Act. APHA is overjoyed by today's ruling.
For more about APHA, visit www.apha.org.
Founded in 1872, the APHA is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. The association aims to protect all Americans and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health providers, educators, environmentalists, policy-makers and health officials at all levels working both within and outside governmental organizations and educational institutions. More information is available at www.apha.org.
Contact: Audrey Pernik
SOURCE American Public Health Association