FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
State Legislators Ready to Take Up Battle for Health Care Coverage Regardless of the Decision of the Supreme Court
Should the individual mandate prove unconstitutional, state legislators are already planning ways to ensure Americans have access to affordable health care
Washington, D.C. – As the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments today on the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, state legislators have begun planning should the decision go either way. If the individual mandate is struck down, states will be at the forefront in efforts to increase enrollment in the exchanges to keep costs down.
“If the individual mandate is overturned, state legislators are developing alternatives to be sure that we don’t return to a time where insurance companies can deny coverage to people when they get sick, or discriminate against women by charging them more than men,” said state Senator Karen Keiser. Convening a group of state legislators working to ensure that millions in their states have access to health care, Senator Keiser expressed support for the law, even as states are already working to develop alternatives to the individual federal mandate. “The Affordable Care Act has already helped thousands of seniors, children with preexisting conditions, and young adults in Washington State get the health care they need and we want to ensure that affordable health care continues to be available to all, including those who have already benefitted,” said Senator Keiser.
Representative Elizabeth Ritter, from Connecticut, is also one of the state legislators working to ensure that millions receive access to affordable health care regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision. Connecticut and Washington are two of the eleven states that have signed laws establishing a health insurance exchange, in addition to Rhode Island, where the Governor signed an executive order establishing an Exchange.
Should only the individual mandate be ruled unconstitutional, states will have flexibility in options as they work to ensure that health care premiums do not skyrocket. “The Affordable Care Act has helped to provide a fundamental necessity to the people we serve,” Rep. Ritter said. “Our struggle will not stop until we find solutions to ensure that children and families have access to the healthcare they need. I am proud to be a strong supporter of the Healthcare Act and will remain committed to this issue for as long as it takes.”
Three years ago, a group of 32 state leaders from across the country met in Washington, D.C. and founded the Working Group of State Legislators for National Health Reform to advocate for federal action on health reform. In the intervening time, the Working Group has grown to include legislators from nearly every state. “From the founding of our working group three years ago until now, our members have been on the front lines in our states focused on protecting the health security of the families we represent -- first by advocating for the passage of the strongest and most effective possible federal health reform law, and now by working to implement the law in the way that makes the most sense for our individual states,” said Washington State Senator Karen Keiser, Chair of the Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform. “Even if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional, we continue to work on options to ensure that our constituents have affordable and quality health care coverage.”
As the Attorneys General continue to wage partisan political attacks against the Affordable Care Act and regardless of the final decision of the Supreme Court, state legislators across the country remain committed in their fight to ensure health care is available for all Americans. Their dedication and hard work is critical in ensuring that one of the richest economies in the world is not left with a broken health care system that does not provide adequate or affordable care for millions.
Abelson, R. “As Health Care Law is Contested, Developing a Plan B.”  The New York Times. 27 March 2012.
“State Legislators From Across Nation Voice Support for Health Law as Supreme Court Arguments Begin”  (3/26)
"2012 Kicks Off With Massive Show of Support for Affordable Care Act in the States"  (1/11/12)
About the Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform:
The Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform is a national group of state legislators focused on advancing health reform at the state level including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
About Progressive States Network:
Progressive States Network (www.progressivestates.org ) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the work of progressive state legislators around the country and to the advancement of state policies that deliver on issues the issues that matter to working families: strong wage standards and workplace freedom, balancing work and family responsibilities, health care for all, smart growth and clean energy, tax and budget reform, clean and fair elections, and technology investments to bridge the digital divide.