For the past four years, the focus of progressive state lawmakers has largely been on shaping, passing, implementing, and securing the very survival of the Affordable Care Act. But following last year’s historic U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the law, that focus shifted in legislative sessions this year to preparing to implement the law fully and effectively before critical elements of the legislation take effect in 2014 — a focus made more urgent by the Court’s decision to leave the question of Medicaid expansion up to the states. At the same time, and despite the political consequences, conservatives continued to ramp up their War on Women in statehouses across the nation, attacking abortion rights and making it more difficult for women to receive much needed care.
Progressive States Network is hosting a webinar this Monday, June 10th at 4pm ET on what lawmakers need to know about the Affordable Care Act before 2014. Learn about game-changing market reforms, how state legislative offices can assist constituents in enrolling in exchanges, and more.
Following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), local and national attention has once again focused on the states as the arenas where implementation of – and opposition to – the law will play out. For uninsured individuals and families who hope to gain from the expanded coverage provided for under the law starting in 2014, the initial response in many states may not have been encouraging. But in the face of this predictable response from opponents, responsible state legislative leaders from around the nation have also been speaking out.
Immediately following today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, leading state legislators from across the nation are already pledging to continue implementing the provisions of the law as fully and quickly as possible, as the focus of health care reform once again returns to the states.
Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have separately adopted at least one of the consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act as state law. No matter what the Supreme Court decides about the federal law, consumers in those 48 states continue to have at least some protection from the abusive practices of health insurance companies.
A group of state legislators who support the health law have discussed what they could do to replace the insurance mandate, if the court strikes it down, said Karen Keiser, a Democratic state senator in Washington who chairs the group. Possibilities for replacing a federal mandate include the “politically difficult” route of passing state versions of the mandate, or replacing private insurers with government-run coverage in some states, Keiser said. “It’s much more likely that states would step in and take it on because it seems the Congress is really at impasse,” she said by phone. In states that choose not to act, she said, “a large number of Americans would be left out and left behind.”
Maine state Rep. Sharon Anglin Treat, D-Hallowell, walked out of the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday after listening to the first round of oral arguments over President Obama's health care law and shook her head at the contrast. Inside the august chamber, where Treat snared a third-row seat after getting in line at 5:20 a.m., the justices quizzed all sides on fine legal points as the rapt audience looked on.
As historic oral arguments over the lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act opened today at the U.S. Supreme Court, a group of hundreds of state legislators representing every state in the nation continued to voice their support for the health law, underscoring that the Attorneys General bringing the lawsuit are not the only ones who speak for the states.