APHA applauds Supreme Court decision preserving the Affordable Care Act

Date: Jun 17 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media Relations 

APHA strongly applauds today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in California v. Texas, a monumental decision that preserves the Affordable Care Act and protects vital health care access for more than 31 million Americans who depend on its coverage.

The seven-justice majority turned away challenges from the former Trump administration and some states to dismiss the entire law, which had been under relentless attack from opponents. The Texas case was the third major Supreme Court challenge for the ACA, which was enacted in 2010.

“Today’s ruling 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, such as the ACA’s prohibition on denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD. “A ruling against the ACA would have been a devastating blow to the nation’s health, economy and security.”

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the decision, in a 7-2 vote to uphold. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented.  As of early May, an additional 1 million Americans had signed up for ACA coverage since the Biden administration launched a special open enrollment period, which is open through Aug. 15.

The appeal centered on a provision in the ACA related to penalties. The justices said the plaintiffs did not have a standing to sue.

The latest lawsuit to try to repeal the ACA, California V. Texas was initially filed in 2018 by 20 state attorneys general and governors. The lawsuit argued that the ACA’s individual mandate was unconstitutional and inseparable from the ACA, meaning the entire law should be struck down. The Supreme Court disagreed, upholding the ACA and its life-saving benefits. APHA joined 220 public health deans, department chairs and scholars in filing an amicus brief with the court outlining the important reasons to maintain the ACA’s critical public health and health coverage provisions.

In addition to stripping millions of their health care coverage, repealing the ACA would have also eliminated the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which in 2010 became the nation’s first mandatory funding stream dedicated to public health and prevention. The fund supports critical public health and prevention activities such as immunization programs, childhood lead poisoning prevention and tobacco prevention efforts among others.

“We celebrate today’s Supreme Court decision and will continue to work with the public health community in our mission to achieve the healthiest nation in one generation, which can’t be achieved without a strong public health system and ensuring health coverage for all,” Benjamin said.

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The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.