Tens of millions of Americans are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act, including the parents of children with preexisting conditions, women getting mammograms with no out-of-pocket cost, seniors saving hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs, and one million young adults now newly insured through their parent’s plan. And the law also tackles costs, requiring insurance companies to justify their plans to raise premiums and give consumers a rebate if they spend too much of your premium dollar on overhead instead of health care. But even as millions enjoy the benefits of reform, opponents continue to try and give control back to the insurance companies by challenging the law in court.
There has been no shortage of lawsuits regarding the Affordable Care Act. Of course, whenever our nation is undertaking fundamental reform, legal challenges like this are nothing new. Just as challenges to the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act all failed, challenges to health reform are failing as well. The Administration has already prevailed in cases heard in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Unfortunately the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Affordable Care Act’s individual responsibility provision. We strongly disagree with their decision and today, the Obama Administration will ask the Supreme Court to hear this case, so that we can put these challenges to rest and continue moving forward implementing the law to lower the cost of health care and make it more secure for all Americans. We hope the Supreme Court takes up the case and we are confident we will win. Here’s why:
The Affordable Care Act, through the individual responsibility requirement, will require everyone, if they can afford it, to carry some form of health insurance since everyone at some point in time participates in the health care system, and incur costs that must be paid for. For the 83% of Americans who have coverage and who are already taking responsibility for their health care, their insurance premiums will decrease over time. Only those who are able to pay for health insurance will be responsible for obtaining it and new tax credits and other provisions in the law will make health insurance affordable for middle class families. That’s why the Congressional Budget Office estimated that only 1 percent of all Americans would pay a penalty for not having health insurance in 2016.
Opponents of reform wrongly claim that Congress exceeded its authority in regulating when and how people pay for health care. Those who claim that the “individual responsibility” provision exceeds Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce because it penalizes “inactivity” are simply wrong. People who make a decision to forego health insurance do not opt out of the health care market. Their action is not felt by themselves alone. Instead, when they become ill or injured and cannot pay their bills, their costs are shifted to others. Those costs – $43 billion in 2008 alone – are borne by doctors, hospitals, insured individuals, taxpayers and small businesses throughout the nation.
Additionally, banning insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions helps to ensure that every American who can afford it has insurance. We don’t let people wait until after they’ve been in a car accident to apply for auto insurance and get reimbursed, and we don’t want to do that with health care. If we’re going to outlaw discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, people should not be allowed to game the system and raise costs on everyone else.
We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. We are confident the Supreme Court will agree.