Throughout the meritless litigation challenging the Affordable Care Act, one trend has been clear. Organizations that actually know something about health care — the American Hospital Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Nurses Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and similar organizations — have enthusiastically filed briefs supporting the ACA. Meanwhile, the law’s opponents have only managed to scare up anti-gay hate groups, fringe libertarian think tanks and other GOP-aligned groups to support their side of the argument.
Yesterday, this trend continued when dozens of health provider groups, advocates for people with disabilities and illnesses, hospital associations, health economists and other groups filed a total of 18 amicus briefs opposing Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act. These briefs also include a brief filed by nine states in support of the ACA and another brief signed by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire. Perhaps the most telling new addition to the briefs supporting the ACA, however, comes from the state of Massachusetts.
In 2006, former Gov. Mitt Romney signed a law which is virtually identical to the Affordable Care Act into law in Massachusetts. As their brief explains, this law has been wildly successful in improving health outcomes in that state:
Three years after its enactment, Massachusetts had reduced the number of uninsured residents to less than three percent of the state’s population and increased the number of residents with health insurance by more than 432,000, giving Massachusetts the lowest rate of uninsured residents in the Nation. By the fall of 2009, more than 95 percent of nonelderly Massachusetts adults were insured, up from 87.5 percent in the fall of 2006. The significant gains in the number of Massachusetts residents with health insurance helped spur a corresponding sharp decline in the amount of state spending on “free care” for the uninsured and under-insured. The amount of free care dropped from $709.5 million in fiscal year 2006 to $414 million in fiscal year 2009.
So the state that knows the most about health reform believes that the Affordable Care Act will dramatically increase the number of Americans with insurance, while reducing a significant source of government health costs. Meanwhile, none of the states that have lined up against the ACA have any experience whatsoever with this kind of law.
Of course, those states are all but certain to recruit another array of right-wing think tanks, hate groups and crackpot law professors to join their side of the argument. If history is any guide, however, none of their supporters will know the first thing about health care.