This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments around challenges to several elements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the minimum coverage requirement (also known as the individual mandate) and the Medicaid expansion, which would extend eligibility to all U.S. citizens making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, absent the current disability requirement.
The justices seemed skeptical of the individual mandate, but also seemed reluctant to overturn it if it meant wading through the entire law to determine which parts would also have to be struck with the mandate and which could stand on their own. Still, it is difficult to forecast what the Court will do, regardless of the onslaught of media analysis and predictions that have circulated this week. NMAC remains hopeful that the Court will uphold this landmark expansion of our nation’s health care system and view its reforms as critical to expanding access and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV or AIDS.
A decision is expected in June. NMAC will track the Court’s movement and update its constituents when the Supreme Court’s final opinion is released.
Check out Paul Kawata’s op-ed in the Huffington Post on the importance of this case in the fight to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic here.
Budget Season Heats Up in Washington
Last week, Chairman of the House Budget Committee Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his budget proposal. Maintaining the same absurd moniker as the plan he unveiled last year – “Path to Prosperity” – Chairman Ryan’s budget also carried over several of the same troubling proposals, including a complete overhaul of the nation’s Medicaid and Medicare programs. The plan would transform Medicaid into a block grant program and Medicare into a voucher system, shifting massive costs to the nation’s poor and elderly. What’s more, while the plan would cut federal spending even more than the massive reductions included in last year’s Budget Control Act, the Chairman’s proposal also includes massive tax cuts, most of which would benefit the nation’s wealthiest citizens. In fact, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that 62% of Chairman Ryan’s cuts would come from programs for low-income Americans, such as Medicaid.
While the budget passed the House Budget Committee and will likely be approved on the floor of the House of Representatives – a vote is expected sometime today – the Chairman’s proposal has no chance of making it through the Democratic-controlled Senate. The House Democrats have proposed an alternative to Chairman Ryan’s budget, but given that the chamber is controlled by Republicans, it likely will not go anywhere either. As such, the House will presumably have to put forward a more moderate budget proposal in the coming weeks and months.
NMAC will continue to monitor developments closely and is continuing to work with coalition partners and allies in Congress to ensure adequate funding for HIV/AIDS programs and services. We will update our constituents on any developments.