Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Supreme Court’s Decision Upholding The Affordable Care Act

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act is a win not only for the millions of Vermonters and other Americans who have long been victimized by a deeply flawed health care system, but for all Americans who will benefit as we continue to implement this landmark law. 

“Over much of the last century, generation after generation has unsuccessfully grappled with how to answer complex and increasingly urgent questions about how to let every American have access to quality, affordable health insurance.  Out of control costs were eating our economy alive and forcing many employers to drop insurance for their workers.  The Affordable Care Act at last answered those questions.  Though no bill is perfect, these are good reforms, long needed by the American people, by American businesses and by the American economy. 

“The nation and every American household now would be best served if this historic decision puts an end to the years of partisan attacks and obstruction of efforts to help the millions of Americans who have fallen through the cracks, and millions more who worry with good reason that they may fall through the crack of our broken health insurance system.  The Court has spared the American people a return to those decades of spiraling problems and uncertainty that reached into every American household.

“The Court’s decision reaffirms what I have believed since the Senate debated and passed this law: Congress has the power under the Constitution and the Court’s own, long-standing precedent to protect Americans from abuses by health insurers and to help give all Americans access affordable health care, including some of the most vulnerable among us like children and older Americans. 

“In passing the Affordable Care Act, Congress built on the cornerstones of modern America like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, to strengthen the Nation’s social safety net and help protect hardworking Americans.  I have served in the Senate for 37 years, through seven presidencies.  I am one of the few people in the Senate today who can say that I served alongside representatives who voted to create our nation’s Social Security system, voted for the G.I. bill, passed the Voting Rights Act, and created Medicare, Medicaid, and Head Start.  Congress has come together to refine the laws establishing these programs.  We should similarly come together to further improve the Affordable Care Act where needed.  It’s time to stop the political posturing.  Congress works best for the American people when we are able to come together to solve national problems.  America is stronger when we do.” 

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From The Office Of Senator Patrick Leahy
The Affordable Care Act Decision: What It Means For Vermont

The U.S. Supreme Court today, in a 5-4 decision, upheld the landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the most sweeping health care reform law in generations.  Over the next few years, the Affordable Care Act will extend health insurance coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans.  Already, thousands of seniors in Vermont have received assistance with paying for their prescription drugs.  Thousands of young Vermonters are now insured under their parents’ plans until their 26th birthdays.  Tens of thousands of Vermonters are receiving preventative screenings without paying a deductible or copay.  And for millions of Americans, an end is in sight to the discrimination that has made being a woman a pre-existing condition. Key reforms still to come will boost competition among insurers for Americans’ health dollars, and hold down insurance companies’ administrative costs and other inflationary pressures.

How the Affordable Care Act Already Has Helped Vermonters

Over 5,000 Young Adults: As of December 2011, 5,000 young adults in Vermont have gained health insurance coverage under their parents’ plans.  Because of the Affordable Care Act, children under the age of 26 without job-based health insurance coverage are able to secure coverage under their family’s plan.  This has impacted 3.1 million young people across the country.

Over 7,000 Medicare Recipients: Since the ACA became law, more than 7,000 Medicare recipients in Vermont have received a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole.  Since 2010, Vermonters on Medicare have saved nearly $8 million on their prescription drugs.  In the first five months of 2012 alone, more than 1,400 Medicare recipients in Vermont have received a 50 percent discount on their brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole, saving Vermont seniors an average of $710 each.

Over 81,600 Medicare Recipients: Under the Affordable Care Act, more than 81,600 Medicare recipients in Vermont have received free preventive services or free annual wellness visits.  The Affordable Care Act has provided 54 million Americans – including 115,000 Vermonters – with private health insurance with preventive service coverage without paying a deductible or copay.

215,000 Vermonters: The Affordable Care Act bans companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits, alleviating a key concern of cancer patients and people suffering from chronic diseases.  In Vermont, 215,000 people already have been freed of worrying about lifetime limits on coverage.  These include 87,000 women and 46,000 children.

Vermont has received nearly $40 million to support efforts to implement critical health reforms in Vermont:

  • $1 million in Planning Grants to support research and planning to build a better health insurance marketplace in Vermont;
  • $18 million in Exchange Establishment Grants to help Vermont implement provisions of the Affordable Care Act;
  • $5.3 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund to support effective policies in Vermont to help Vermonters lead longer lives;
  • $10.9 million to help create new health center sites in medically underserved areas, help health centers increase the number of patients served, and expand preventive and primary health care services.  There are 57 existing community health centers in Vermont;
  • $70,000 to support outreach to eligible Medicare beneficiaries about their benefits;
  • $500,000 to support Aging and Disability Resource Centers;
  • $286,7000 for Family-to-Family Health information Centers to support families with children with special needs;
  • $1.6 million for Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs to bring health professions to meet with at-risk families in their homes;
  • $1.8 million from the Pregnancy Assistance Fund to provide a network of support services for pregnant and parenting teens and women.

Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693