The Affordable Care Act is still under attack

Today, as the Affordable Care Act turns 6 years old, one of its provisions is being challenged in the Supreme Court of the United States. The contraceptive mandate guaranteed that women would have access to affordable birth control as part of their insurance coverage. But women’s reproductive rights have never been “settled law” in America and those attacking a woman’s right to choose the size of her family seem to always find judges willing to rule in their favor. Today, arguments in Zubik v Burwell will be heard by the 8-person Supreme Court; they will decide if religious freedom includes freedom to deny contraceptive coverage to your employees.

Here is a reminder of what happened six years ago.

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. For over 60 years, Democrats had been trying to pass a law that finally and firmly declared that health care was a right and not a privilege.

This historic piece of legislation was possible because we had Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and a Democratic president.

It is why Elections Matter … and why all the rest is noise.

On Behalf of My Mother:

Today, I’m signing this reform bill into law on behalf of my mother, who argued with insurance companies even as she battled cancer in her final days.

I’m signing it for Ryan Smith, who’s here today. He runs a small business with five employees. He’s trying to do the right thing, paying half the cost of coverage for his workers. This bill will help him afford that coverage.

I’m signing it for 11-year-old Marcelas Owens, who’s also here. (Applause.) Marcelas lost his mom to an illness. And she didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford the care that she needed. So in her memory he has told her story across America so that no other children have to go through what his family has experienced. (Applause.)

I’m signing it for Natoma Canfield. Natoma had to give up her health coverage after her rates were jacked up by more than 40 percent. She was terrified that an illness would mean she’d lose the house that her parents built, so she gave up her insurance. Now she’s lying in a hospital bed, as we speak, faced with just such an illness, praying that she can somehow afford to get well without insurance. Natoma’s family is here today because Natoma can’t be. And her sister Connie is here. Connie, stand up. (Applause.)

I’m signing this bill for all the leaders who took up this cause through the generations — from Teddy Roosevelt to Franklin Roosevelt, from Harry Truman, to Lyndon Johnson, from Bill and Hillary Clinton, to one of the deans who’s been fighting this so long, John Dingell. (Applause.) To Senator Ted Kennedy. (Applause.) And it’s fitting that Ted’s widow, Vicki, is here — it’s fitting that Teddy’s widow, Vicki, is here; and his niece Caroline; his son Patrick, whose vote helped make this reform a reality. (Applause.)

I remember seeing Ted walk through that door in a summit in this room a year ago — one of his last public appearances. And it was hard for him to make it. But he was confident that we would do the right thing.

Our presence here today is remarkable and improbable. With all the punditry, all of the lobbying, all of the game-playing that passes for governing in Washington, it’s been easy at times to doubt our ability to do such a big thing, such a complicated thing; to wonder if there are limits to what we, as a people, can still achieve. It’s easy to succumb to the sense of cynicism about what’s possible in this country.

But today, we are affirming that essential truth -– a truth every generation is called to rediscover for itself –- that we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations. (Applause.) We are not a nation that falls prey to doubt or mistrust. We don’t fall prey to fear. We are not a nation that does what’s easy. That’s not who we are. That’s not how we got here.

And we have now just enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care. (Applause.) And it is an extraordinary achievement that has happened because of all of you and all the advocates all across the country


That bill was passed by Democrats. Not “perfect Democrats”. Democrats. A group of men and women, many of whom put their jobs on the line (and lost them in 2010) because they believed in the core principles of the Democratic party.

Let’s give the next Democratic president Democratic majorities in the 115th Congress to advance the rest of President Obama’s (and our) agenda in 2017.

When we vote, we win. And when we win, this becomes possible:

That looks pretty nice alongside these other reminders of why Elections Matter:

(Originally posted March 23, 2014 at Views from North Central Blogistan)



  1. Statement by President Barack Obama on the ACA:

    Just six years ago, the reality in our country was that millions of Americans were locked out of our health care system because they couldn’t afford insurance or because they had pre-existing conditions. Women were charged more than men simply because they were women. People who needed coverage the most were too often denied it.

    At the same time, rising health care costs posed a significant threat to our economy, eroding workers’ paychecks and adding to our deficits. And while costs were high, the quality of care often wasn’t.

    The good news is, we’ve taken significant strides to change that. Tomorrow marks six years since I signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Thanks to this law, 20 million more Americans now know the security of having health insurance, and our uninsured rate is below ten percent for the first time on record. As many as 129 million people with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage or charged more as a result. Those with private insurance got an upgrade as well: now almost 140 million Americans are guaranteed free preventive care, like certain cancer screenings and vaccines, and improvements in the quality of care in hospitals have averted 87,000 deaths since 2010.

    We’re also making historic investments to make sure our health care system puts patients first. We’re paying doctors for what works, improving the safety and effectiveness of health care that patients receive. We’re helping doctors and hospitals coordinate with each other by unlocking health data. And we’re giving patients more information and tools to stay healthy.

    Critics said this law would destroy jobs and cripple the economy, but in fact just the opposite has happened. Our businesses have added jobs every single month since I signed it into law. The unemployment rate has dropped from almost 10 percent to 4.9 percent. Thanks in part to this law, health care prices have risen at the lowest rate in 50 years. Medicare is continuing a period of slow spending growth, saving taxpayers more than $470 billion from 2009 to 2014 alone. And premiums for a family with job-based coverage are almost $2,600 lower than if trends from the decade before the law had continued.

    We’ve made good progress in the last six years. But we still have more work to do. We’ll keep working to get more Americans covered and help the millions of people who remain uninsured in states that rejected the Medicaid expansion option. We’ll keep working to make insurance and prescription drugs more affordable. And we’ll keep working to reduce costs and improve the quality of care throughout our health system.

    But the facts are clear: America is on a stronger footing because of the Affordable Care Act. Six years later, this is no longer just about a law. It’s not about politics. It’s about the recent college graduate who can stay on his parents’ health insurance until he’s 26. It’s about the working mom who has coverage because her state expanded Medicaid. It’s about the entrepreneur who has the freedom to pursue her dream and start that new business. After nearly a century of effort, and thanks to the thousands of people who fought so hard to pass and implement this law, we have at last succeeded in leaving our kids and grandkids a country where pre-existing conditions exclusions are a thing of the past, affordable options are within our reach, and health care is no longer a privilege, but a right.

    FACT SHEET: Fact Sheet: Health Care Accomplishments

  2. This is a prime example of refusing to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Many millions more now have coverage, where before only the affluent did. Health care was rationed by the insurance companies.

    That anyone could be such a fiend as to want to deny his or her fellow Americans health coverage is abhorrent.

    And I wish everyone would stop believing in the Roman Catholic church, which by all accounts is a cesspool. Pederasts don’t need to be telling women what to do with their own bodies.

    • Totally agree with you on paragraphs 1 & 2 – and even with the ACA, SCOTUS having permitted states to refuse expanded Medicaid, people like Tricia are still uninsured and dying because of not getting treated in a timely manner (or properly taken care of when they show up at the ER after it’s too late).

      As to paragraph 3, the RCs are like any other male-dominated organization. It has good points and bad points. (And absolutely telling women what to do with their own bodies is one of their bad points. Even thinking they have the right to whether they actually do it or not is a bad point. But not solely a problem with the RCs.) The cover up of pedophilia was and is very bad and the Church is rightly being slammed for it. But most priests, while they may or may not be jerks, are not pederasts. The number one category of sexual abusers is male family members. Priests are a subset of the number three category “familiar strangers”.

      Meanwhile, back to the ACA and the value thereof – if Tricia Wyse had been able to get medical care back in October when the problem first started, she would 99% sure be here today. People like Gov McCrory and the Rs in the NC legislature make me wish I believed in a Hell for them to fry in.

  3. Update on the Supreme Court’s hearing about the Little Sisters of the Poor’s case against the wimmen poors.

    Here is a link to the SCOTUSblog afternoon roundup: Today’s argument in Zubik v. Burwell

    After reading some of these, it appears that the court is split 4 to 4. The only question now is whether they are willing to let two sets of laws govern the contraceptive mandate: if they let the lower court rulings stand, plans in the 8th Circuit (“Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota.”) will allow the religion of the employer trump the health care rights of the employees – and in the rest of the country, employers would opt out by filling out the form saying they opt out. If the court wants to craft a compromise of some sort to get that last vote, then there is some hope but I am not sure what sort of compromise will work. The lawyer for the nuns, when asked about a specific accommodation by Justice Kagan and whether that would work said “maybe it would, maybe it wouldn’t” signalling that the goal posts will continue to move until they are back to his clients being allowed to deny health care benefits to the class of “people who happen to work for religious organizations”. I hope that Justice Kennedy is able to see through it.

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