There was a great deal of exuberance in the hallways at Burness yesterday when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) subsidies for people living in states with federally run health insurance marketplaces—and I know we weren’t alone.
For the better part of our history as an organization of communicators committed to social change, we have worked to create a fairer health care system that would allow all of us to have the same opportunities to be healthy. We want to be living in a world where getting sick doesn’t mean bankruptcy, and how much money you make doesn’t determine how long you live.
We still have a long way to go. But the Court’s decision is a tremendous step in the right direction.
So far, nearly 17 million people have gained health insurance since the law was passed, and 6.4 million of them had their coverage saved by the Supreme Court’s ruling. Moreover, the health insurance people have gained through the law is good health insurance—it covers the care they need and can’t exclude their chronic illness, not cover their maternity care, or kick them out for getting sick.
This is a lot of good news. And while some may still question the law’s utility and continue to seek its repeal, the Court’s decision certainly closes what had been a nail-biting chapter of its controversial life. We can move onto the work of getting the more than 25 million people, who are still uninsured, covered—especially those in the states that still haven’t expanded Medicaid to cover everyone who is eligible for it under the ACA. We can focus on keeping health insurance and health care affordable for all of us.
But, let’s celebrate the moment and breathe a sigh of relief for the millions of our friends, family and neighbors who woke up today secure in the knowledge that they have insurance and can get care if they become sick. Let’s be grateful for those who worked so hard to pass and preserve this law—believing that access to health care is a human right, that one of the world’s wealthiest nations shouldn’t callously disregard the health of millions of our neighbors; and most importantly, that it was possible to make this indelible change after so many decades of trying.