The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing federal subsidies to continue for people buying health insurance on federal exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a historic one that will enable millions of Americans to live longer, healthier and more productive lives.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) supports implementation of the ACA because of the strong commitment of our members to protecting and improving the health and safety of the American people. The ACA puts the highest priority on promoting good health and preventing people from getting sick in the first place.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, the ACA must now be considered a permanent part of our nation’s healthcare system—like Medicare and Medicaid.
Medicare and Medicaid were debated and criticized by some in Congress when they were first proposed many years ago. But now elected officials in both parties and the American people strongly support the programs. Congress doesn’t take votes again and again trying to repeal them. I think that eventually the Affordable Care Act will be accepted in the same way.
The ACA does just what its name says—it makes healthcare affordable for more than 16 million people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to buy insurance coverage for needed medical care. It’s a big improvement from what existed before—which was unaffordable care for millions of people without health insurance.
One of the 10 essential public health services is to assure access to healthcare. The ACA, while not ensuring coverage for all Americans, has done a great deal to expand access. This is a significant step in fulfilling this public health mission.
Finally, the ACA is responsible for slowing the growth in real per capita spending on healthcare in the United States to a record low level, according to President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, and has reduced long-term estimates for federal health care spending by hundreds of billions of dollars.
The ACA isn’t perfect—no healthcare law could ever be—but it has enormous benefit for people previously locked out of the health insurance system and will make America a healthier nation.