“Today's 5–4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in support of the Affordable Care Act is a victory for the health, independence and inclusion of people with disabilities. The Affordable Care Act brings us closer to a country in which all people can access quality and affordable health care. Today's ruling reinforces a critical tool which, among other things, supports the right of people with disabilities to access health care without fear of denial or limits based on disability, and expands programs that enable people with disabilities to live independently outside of institutions and in communities of their choice.”
Just over two years ago, people with disabilities around the country celebrated the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The law provided a powerful new resource to access quality health care, increase their independence, and challenge discrimination based upon disability. Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010, millions of people with disabilities have benefited through being able to access coverage that could have previously been denied, expand coverage that was previously limited, and pursue more options to receive services in their own homes rather than nursing homes and institutions.
Historically, people with disabilities have faced multiple barriers to quality health care, including: insurance companies that denied health coverage based upon an individual's disability diagnosis; dollar limits placed on benefits; inaccessible health care equipment; and long–term care options limited to nursing homes and institutions. These and other barriers have had a devastating impact on the disability community, resulting in individuals who either receive inadequate care, are forced to receive services in segregated institutions, or who don't receive any coverage whatsoever.
The Affordable Care Act addresses each of these barriers. As a result of the law, more than 17 million children with pre–existing conditions no longer face the risk of being without insurance coverage. In 2014, that protection will extend to anyone of any age with a pre–existing condition. The law protects people with disabilities from dollar limits on health benefits, ensuring that people with disabilities will continue to receive the coverage they need. The law improves physical access to medical equipment and services, ensuring that inaccessibility won't get in the way of an individual's health care needs.
In addition, the law furthers the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision, both of which give people with disabilities the right to receive long term care supports in the most integrated setting. The Affordable Care Act supports programs that promote people with disabilities living in their own homes and communities, rather than institutions and nursing homes. The law extends and enhances the Federal Money Follows the Person Program, which in the past five years has helped 20,000 people move out of institutions and into less costly, more independent, community–based settings. The law also creates the Community First Choice Option, which offers the incentive of a six percent increase in Federal Medicaid matching rate for states that provide community services as an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities enrolled in Medicaid.
All told, the Affordable Care Act supports improved health outcomes and the integration and independence of millions of people with disabilities around the country. Speaking again about the importance of the law, Amber Smock, Access Living's Director of Advocacy, said,
“The Affordable Care Act is the first national initiative that makes it illegal to deny coverage based upon an individual's status as a person with a disability – as many insurers currently do – and ensures that, regardless of the type or severity of disability, people can have much greater access to quality health care services that will enable them to live healthy and independent lives in communities of their choice. Now that the decision has been upheld, we call on Governor Quinn to sign an executive order establishing an Illinois Insurance Exchange.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, every state must create an exchange. The exchange will offer a resource for Illinois citizens to effectively navigate the insurance market.
Established in 1980, Access Living is a non–profit, Chicago–based disability rights and service organization that provides individualized, peer–based services for people with disabilities. With a strong influence in public policy and social reform, Access Living is challenging stereotypes, protecting civil rights and breaking institutional and community barriers.
For more information contact Gary Arnold at Access Living 312–640–2199 (voice), 773–425–2536 (mobile), email@example.com