NMAC Applauds Health Care Decision, Urges States to Implement Medicaid Expansion

The following is a statement from National Minority AIDS Council Director of Legislative & Public Affairs Kali Lindsey:

Washington, DC — “In a spectacular victory for the public health community, the Supreme Court ruled this morning that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is indeed constitutional.  Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts determined that, while the Commerce Clause does not grant Congress the power to compel all individuals to purchase health insurance, its authority to levy taxes allows it to penalize those who chose not to, effectively upholding the individual mandate.  The Court also upheld the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, which would extend eligibility to all individuals making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, but essentially made the expansion voluntary.

“As NMAC pointed out in its amicus brief, the ACA does more to improve America’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic than any piece of legislation since the Ryan White CARE Act.  Whether banning the practice of denying coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions like HIV infection, or caps on life-time expenditures, this law will improve access to care for hundreds of thousands of people living with HIV.  The Court’s decision today affirms the vast majority of these critical reforms and will go far in furthering our efforts to end the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“But while today’s decision is largely positive, significant challenges remain.  The Court’s decision that the Medicaid expansion must be voluntary means that millions of low-income Americans, including thousands living with HIV, may still lack access to the program.  The law’s subsidies, which are aimed at helping individuals purchase insurance through state health exchanges, were not designed to cover those who would have otherwise been eligible for Medicaid under the expansion.

“Today’s decision is a significant victory in the effort to provide quality health care to all who need it.  But the struggle is far from over.  Congress must reevaluate mechanisms to encourage states to participate in the Medicaid expansion, while also ensuring that sufficient subsidies are available to provide coverage to low-income individuals living in states that choose not to.  NMAC remains committed to the principle of universal access to quality health care and will continue to work with Congress, the administration and state governments to ensure that the ACA is implemented in a way that is responsive to the needs of those living with and vulnerable to HIV.”


Contact:  Kyle Murphy, (202) 483-6622 ext. 333