Two days ago a federal health survey found that the number of low-income Americans who lacked health insurance dropped substantially last year. Why? The reason is obvious: subsidies available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have made it possible for millions of Americans to afford health insurance and access necessary medical care, something more affluent Americans take for granted.
Today’s 6-to-3 Supreme Court vote to uphold the ACA is good news for people who rely on those subsidies to afford health insurance. This is particularly true for African-Americans who are more likely to be poor and to report higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension compared to the rest of the population. The ACA has the potential to help them tremendously. In fact, is already has: the rate of African-Americans who were uninsured fell by nearly a third, from 2013 to 2014, according to the federal study published yesterday.
Hopefully, today’s ruling will finally mark the end of a divisive effort by politicians and pundits to dismantle a signature domestic policy achievement of the Obama Administration. The law has been an astounding success from our viewpoint: it has helped more than 11 million Americans gain health insurance coverage. Here in New York, more than 2.3 million people have enrolled in health insurance under the ACA. Eighty-five percent of them were eligible for subsidies.
Let’s not forget that before the ACA was implemented high medical bills devastated families and were responsible for more than 60 percent of all American bankruptcies. The ACA is stemming the tide. It has also helped keep insurance premiums down, and has reduced the number of costly emergency room visits which cost all policyholders and promoted greater equity in the health care system. These are achievements worth celebrating.
And though there is still more work to do to make certain that quality health insurance is available to all who need it, today’s ruling ensures that this important work will continue.