The U.S. Supreme Court made a historic decision yesterday. This is a victory for all Americans, both the insured and the uninsured.
This court action will prevent the distress, pain and loss of life that result from restrictive rules insurance companies impose in order to provide health insurance coverage.
The most important provisions of the Affordable Care act were upheld as constitutional, expanding insurance coverage for tens of millions-those who today live with the real possibility that an illness could drive them into bankruptcy.
The Latino community, which has the highest national percentage of uninsured, is very familiar with the impact of not having health insurance.
At the same time, individuals and patients will now have new legal protections to shield them from the increasing coverage restrictions insurance companies place on insured patients and those with preexisting medical conditions.
This will all be possible because the justices confirmed the lawfulness of mandating all Americans to have health insurance. This is an indispensable personal responsibility provision, needed for a structure that still depends on the private insurance system to be able to function.
Let’s not forget that the law in reality was a health care coverage reform instead of an overhaul of the health care system. The law left the private structure in place, despite the false accusation lodged against it that this is federal government intervention.
On the other hand, the ruling should accelerate the process-one that is already advanced in California-of implementing an insurance exchange and various aspects of the law. We had always been concerned because the undocumented were excluded from coverage; this decision leaves it up to the states to implement ways to strengthen, for example, a network of community clinics to treat these patients.
This decision was also a huge victory for President Obama, who defied warnings from friends and foes not to spend valuable political capital on the health care law when there are other priorities like the economy.
The president’s bet proved to be a winner. His challenge now is to convince voters-those who do not think the reform affects them and are mostly skeptical-that this is not an invasion by the government and it does have concrete benefits for individuals.
Republican critics are trying to hide this unavoidable reality. They see this decision as an opportunity to turn the election into a referendum on the health law. This will test the president’s ability to communicate to voters the positive effects the law really does have.
After all, voters-given the Supreme Court’s ruling-will be the ones who decide in November if the law should continue to be implemented as Barack Obama wants or should be completely repealed as Mitt Romney has proposed.