In a huge victory for our families, our communities, and our country, the Supreme Court today upheld the Affordable Care Act. The finding that the law is constitutional includes the individual mandate, which is the requirement that every individual have health insurance coverage or pay a small amount of additional taxes.
The court’s decision also affirms numerous other provisions that are already helping to make the insurance market more fair, expand coverage to those who don’t have it, and make it easier for gay and transgender people to get the health care they need to stay healthy.
The three major components of the law upheld by the court today are:
1. The law itself: Because the law was found to be constitutional, the justices answered the question of whether the law should be struck down with a resounding “no.” Check out some of the great things the law is already doing for gay and transgender people and their families.
2. The individual mandate: The justices interpreted the law’s requirement that every individual secure a minimum level of insurance coverage as a tax, meaning that Congress had the right to include it in the Affordable Care Act. The individual mandate pays for the law’s other health insurance market reforms — including the requirement that insurers can’t deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions such as HIV or cancer.
3. The Medicaid expansion: The law expands Medicaid eligibility in every state starting in 2014 to everyone who makes less than $15,000 per year. According to today’s ruling, states that do not want to expand to this level of eligibility do not have to, but they will lose the new funding the law makes available for running their Medicaid programs.
The ruling is a major victory, but the road ahead to making sure gay and transgender communities fully benefit from the law is still bumpy. In particular, the expansion of Medicaid will include many gay and transgender people and their families, since discrimination in employment and relationship recognition means that they are disproportionately likely to be uninsured and to make less than $15,000 per year. Advocates in every state will need to work hard to make sure that their states expand Medicaid eligibility up to the full level the law allows.
And on July 11, the House of Representatives will make another attempt to repeal the law. But this time, the law is really on our side.