The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will provide health care relief to many LGBT families, numerous experts believe. In addition to providing health care to more than 30 million uninsured Americans, the act promises to safeguard against denial of coverage or exorbitant premiums for people with HIV and other chronic diseases.
‚ÄúFor the first time in the history of the (HIV/AIDS) epidemic, the ACA will dramatically expand health care access to people previously considered ‚Äėuninsurable,‚Äô including millions of Americans with HIV/AIDS and other serious illness,‚ÄĚ said Neil Giuliano, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. ‚ÄúToday, we move one step closer to having a health care system that supports access to care and treatment that prevent illness and disease progression, rather than a ‚Äôsick care system‚Äė that promotes disability and illness by limiting coverage options.‚ÄĚ
Rea Carey, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, shares Giuliano‚Äôs hope about the ACA.
‚ÄúThis ruling is a victory for millions of people ‚ÄĒ including LGBT people and our families ‚ÄĒ who don‚Äôt have access to adequate, affordable health care,‚ÄĚ Carey said. ‚ÄúHealth care reform is about revamping a severely broken system to help everyone get a fair shake when it comes to keeping themselves and their families healthy and out of harm‚Äôs way. It is about making sure everyone has access to affordable health care when faced with injury and illness. It is based on the premise that no one get hung out to dry ‚ÄĒ to literally die in some cases ‚ÄĒ because they were denied affordable health care in one of the richest countries in the world.‚ÄĚ
Carey continued, ‚ÄúThis ruling is fair and humane, but it also reminds us of the work that remains to be done. People of color and economically impoverished people are disproportionately affected by health inequities. We have also long known that LGBT people ‚ÄĒ particularly LGBT people of color ‚ÄĒ suffer from higher rates of health disparities, and we continue to press for reform that addresses the stark realities that many of us face every day. This advocacy includes urging the Department of Health and Human Services to use its authority to make inroads in areas such as data collection and research on LGBT health disparities.‚ÄĚ
George Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, believes that the ACA accomplishes the following:
‚ÄĘ 31 million Americans are projected to gain health coverage by 2019 due to critical upcoming reforms, including the exchanges, exchange subsidies, minimum coverage provision and Medicaid expansion.
‚ÄĘ 54 million U.S. families have additional benefits, including greater access to preventive health care services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, such as vaccines and preventive care and screenings for women.
‚ÄĘ 2.5 million young adults up to age 26 are able to stay on their parents‚Äô health insurance plans.
‚ÄĘ Nearly 18 million children with pre-existing conditions are protected from insurance coverage denials.
‚ÄĘ 3.6 million seniors received 50 percent discounts on their drugs in 2011 as an initial step in closing the ‚Äúdonut hole.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄĘ Thanks to the ACA, nearly 33 million seniors have accessed preventive services now available without cost sharing through Medicare.
You needn‚Äôt wait to benefit from the ACA. As Dawn Harbatkin, executive director of Lyon-Martin Health Services, reminds, we have to now ‚Äútake pride in and value our individual health as well as the health of the community.‚ÄĚ To that end, this month Lyon-Martin launched its 30 Days of Health campaign. For more information, please go to http://lyon-martin.org/30-days-of-health/. Additional information about the ACA is at www.healthcare.gov.