The Supreme Court’s decision today to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is good news for Kentucky, a state with tremendous health challenges and a growing number of families that struggle to afford health care coverage.
More than one in seven Kentuckians lack health insurance, but when the ACA is fully implemented in 2014 around half of the uninsured will obtain insurance through the expansion of Medicaid to the working poor. Many thousands more individuals and employees of small businesses will gain coverage through access to a health insurance exchange beginning that year, where they can buy coverage with the help of tax credits.
Other aspects of the ACA are already making the health care system fairer and more inclusive. Many thousands of Kentuckians have benefitted or will benefit from measures that allow young people up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ health insurance; prevent insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions or charge women or sick people more for insurance; require preventative services like wellness visits be included in Medicare and private insurance without co-pays; help seniors afford prescription drugs; and expand community health centers.
As a state in which many struggle with poor health, including higher than average rates of diabetes, cancer, and obesity, improved coverage and higher quality care are essential to improving Kentuckians’ lives and strengthening our economy. The old, fragmented health care system is falling apart, with employer-based health care coverage falling from 70 percent of Kentucky workers in 1980 to only 56 percent today.
More can and should be done to extend health care to all Americans, improve health quality and control the growth of health care costs. But the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the ACA today will mean better health for Kentuckians, and a big step in the right direction. It is now incumbent upon Kentucky leaders to unite behind implementation of the bill.
For the full text of the Supreme Court’s ACA ruling, click here.