Social Workers Believe Law Can Improve the Lives of Uninsured Populations
WASHINGTON, DC (June 28, 2012) The National Association of Social Workers today celebrates the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). NASW has been an outspoken advocate for improving health care access, quality, and services for millions of Americans not currently served by the nation’s health care system. Thanks to today’s ruling, many health care advocates, including NASW, are excited about working to make essential provisions of the law a reality.
While the Court has ruled that states must comply with requirements to receive Medicaid expansion funding, they cannot be penalized by removing funding for existing Medicaid programs. NASW and its members will work with states to do what is in the best interest of their most vulnerable citizens—and expand Medicaid eligibility to the level set by the ACA.
In the two years since ACA was signed into law, several implemented reforms have had a positive effect on the lives of many struggling families, people with chronic illnesses, and millions of young adults who were previously uninsured. Responding to state and corporate opposition to the law, the Supreme Court of the United States has now ruled that the ACA and its key provision—a federal mandate to require all citizens to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty—is constitutional.
“NASW believes this decision supports ACA provisions already implemented, and ensures that future changes can improve health care access for millions of Americans in need,” says Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH, NASW CEO. “The nation has a great opportunity to expand coverage and access, and bring spiraling health care costs under control with today’s victory.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling will have an impact on:
- Affordable Health Care. ACA makes health care affordable for all Americans—including those with employer-sponsored insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. Insurers can no longer rescind coverage. States will be expected to implement Health Insurance Exchanges to facilitate the purchase of private coverage for individuals and small businesses.
- Coverage Restrictions. ACA seeks to limit the common industry practice of excluding people from coverage because of pre-existing health conditions or restricting benefits for seriously ill patients. Insurers can no longer exclude children and adults from coverage based on pre-existing conditions, including cancer, autism, and mental health conditions such as depression. They can’t reinstate lifetime limits on the dollar value of coverage.
- Medicaid Expansion. The ACA provides health care coverage for more of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Medicaid will be expanded, reducing the costly use of emergency rooms.
- Dependent Coverage. ACA helps families ensure their children have adequate medical services during their key transition years as young adults. 6.6 million dependent young adults can continue their insurance coverage.
- Preventive Care. Under ACA, all Americans have better access to preventive care. Medicare and private health insurance plans will offer preventive services, thus increasing the number of people who will receive annual check-ups and cancer-screenings.
- Mental Health Care. ACA provides better coverage for mental and behavioral health needs in health care plans.
- Health Care Workforce. ACA seeks to strengthen the healthcare workforce, and provides training funds for social workers. The law addresses an increased need for medical social workers, aging specialists, and mental health practitioners to assist high need and high-cost communities.
- Primary Care. ACA expands the role and value of primary care. The health care industry’s commitment to increasing care quality through the Accountable Care Organization model can continue.
- Senior Benefits. The ACA improves preventive services and medication benefits for seniors. Critical Medicare benefits such as co-pay free preventive services and closing of the medication coverage gap will be sustained.
More information about NASW’s advocacy on health care reform can be found at SocialWorkers.org. Read NASW’s amicus briefs in Florida v. USDHHS and United States Dept. of Health and Human Services v. Florida at http://www.socialworkers.org/advocacy/healthcarereform.