The June 17 ruling by the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act is a “monumental decision” that preserves the landmark law and protects health care access for millions of Americans who depend on its coverage, according to APHA.

The decision in California v. Texas, in which justices decided there was a lack of standing by the plaintiffs to pursue the case, is “a big win for the many millions of people who rely on the ACA for access to medical and preventive services and who depend on its landmark patient protections,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, in a news release.Pregnant woman with husband

The lawsuit argued that the ACA’s individual mandate was unconstitutional and inseparable from the ACA, and therefore the entire law should be struck down. APHA joined 220 public health deans, department chairs and scholars on a friend-of-the-court brief outlining the many critical reasons the ACA’s public health and health coverage provisions must be maintained. 

“A ruling against the ACA would have been a devastating blow to the nation’s health, economy and security,” Benjamin said.

Read a sampling of reactions to the court decision from public health supporters:

Former U.S. President Barack Obama

“This ruling reaffirms what we have long known to be true: the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. The principle of universal coverage has been established, and 31 million people now have access to care through the law we passed — with millions more who can no longer be denied coverage or charged more because of a preexisting condition.

“Now we need to build on the Affordable Care Act and continue to strengthen and expand it.”

Richard Besser, MD, president and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

“The ACA is one of the most significant laws in generations. Since its passage, tens of millions of Americans — in particular people of color, those with low incomes and preexisting conditions, and young adults — have received quality, affordable health care coverage. States that have expanded their Medicaid programs under the ACA have provided health coverage to millions, leading to improved health outcomes and stronger state economies.

“Now we must finish the job to ensure that every person in the United States — no matter their skin color, income level, or ZIP code — has health insurance and a fair and just opportunity to live the healthiest life possible.”

Xavier Becerra, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

“Once again, the Supreme Court has made clear that the landmark Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. Today’s ruling is a victory for all Americans, especially people with a preexisting condition or anyone who was worried they could be forced to choose between their health and making ends meet. Health care should be a right, not a privilege just for the healthy and wealthy.

“Today’s decision means that all Americans continue to have a right to access affordable care, free of discrimination. More than 133 million people with preexisting conditions — like cancer, asthma or diabetes — can have peace of mind knowing that the health protections they rely on are safe.”

Clare Coleman, president and CEO of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association 

“We are relieved the ACA and its critical prevention provisions will continue, such as the contraceptive coverage requirement that has guaranteed millions of people access to a full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods without patient cost-sharing. The decision also means that the Affordable Care Act’s standards and protections will remain in place, ensuring essential health benefits, including maternity services, mental health care and substance use disorder treatment needed by millions of people.

“At a time of growing need for affordable health care coverage and preventive care services, we are grateful that today’s decision preserves the ACA and protects access to care.”

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Lambda Legal senior attorney and health care strategist

“For more than eleven years, the Affordable Care Act has made it possible for more than 20 million people to see a doctor or health care provider when needed, and who without the ACA would otherwise be left to fend for themselves. Today, the court ensured that the ACA will continue to be a critical lifeline for the people most in need by rejecting yet another frivolous challenge.

“There is no way to overstate how significant of an impact the ACA has had on the health of marginalized communities. The ACA’s health care reforms — such as expansion of Medicaid, nondiscrimination protections under Section 1557, and protections for people with preexisting conditions — made it possible for more people to access care, including people living with HIV, those with lower incomes and those who have faced barriers to care in the past, such as LGBTQ people and people of color. For so many, these reforms were revolutionary.”

Joint statement from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and other patient advocacy groups

“This ruling is a victory for people with serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes, neurological conditions (and) mental illness and anyone suffering long-term effects from COVID-19. These patients and millions more rely on the law’s critical patient protections to obtain more affordable, comprehensive health coverage.

“This decision ensures that essential patient protections will remain in place — including those prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage or charging more for coverage to people with preexisting conditions — requiring health plans to offer essential benefits needed to prevent and treat serious conditions and eliminating arbitrary dollar limits on coverage.”

Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court protects the health of millions of people, and we are grateful to the attorneys general across the country who fought to protect our care. However, the Affordable Care Act shouldn’t have been at risk in the first place. 

“In the midst of a devastating pandemic, the Trump administration and its state allies sowed fear and uncertainty by recklessly jeopardizing affordable health insurance, protections for people with preexisting conditions, and other critical health care needs. Access to health care — including sexual and reproductive care — is at the heart of building a more equitable society.”

Frederick Isasi, executive director of Families USA

“Health care for families in America no longer hangs in the balance. The Supreme Court has now joined the vast majority of Americans who support the health reform law our country passed a decade ago. Hundreds of millions of people with preexisting conditions can sleep soundly tonight, knowing their health care protections won’t be ripped away.

“And let’s remember that this is one of the most conservative Supreme Courts in our nation’s history. The decision is strong and direct. The ACA is upheld, and partisan attacks are thrown out. This kind of strong opinion will almost certainly foreclose other craven, ideological lawsuits, and the war on the ACA may finally be over.”

Wade Henderson, interim president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

“The Supreme Court decision means 133 million people with preexisting conditions who depend on the Affordable Care Act and the millions of people who live in states that expanded Medicaid will still have access to health care. The ACA has provided crucial health coverage and expanded access to our nation’s most vulnerable communities, especially as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis. 

“It is vital that this ruling be the end of politically motivated attacks against the ACA as we work toward creating an equitable health care system that serves everyone. And it is time to close the Medicaid coverage gap and expand Medicaid to the 12 states that have not taken expansion.” 

Gerald E. Harmon, MD, president, American Medical Association 

“Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a victory for patients and for the gains in health care coverage achieved through the Affordable Care Act. The American Medical Association is pleased that the high court rejected the challenge to the ACA, thereby upholding critical patient protections that are improving the lives and health of millions of Americans, particularly amid a global pandemic.”

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