Disability Rights Activists Hail Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act Decision

  • A
  • A
  • A

Stephanie Woodward

Disability Rights Activists Hail Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act Decision

The Center for Disability Rights (CDR), along with other disability rights organizations, such as the national disability rights grassroots group ADAPT, is very excited about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act as a validation of the Act’s opportunities for people with disabilities.

Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law on March 23, 2010, millions of people with disabilities have benefited by being able to access coverage that could have previously been denied, expand coverage that was previously limited, and pursue more options to receive services in their own homes rather than nursing homes and institutions. CDR and ADAPT have focused on ACA opportunities such as the Community First Choice Option, the Balancing Incentives Program, and Money Follows the Person, all of which further opportunities for people with disabilities to live integrated in communities across America.

We are thrilled that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act because this decision means that people with disabilities will have new community living options to live in their own homes. This decision is historic for people with disabilities.

What does the Law do for People with Disabilities?

Because of the ACA, more than 17 million children with pre-existing conditions will no longer be at risk of being denied coverage. In 2014, that protection will extend to anyone of any age with a pre-existing condition. This means that people with disabilities who were previously denied coverage because of their disabilities will now be able to get health care coverage.

Additionally, the law improves physical access to medical equipment and services, ensuring that inaccessibility won’t get in the way of an individual’s health care needs. For example, women with physical disabilities who were previously unable to get mammograms due to inaccessible machines will now have access to the same screenings as women without physical disabilities.

The law also protects people with disabilities from dollar limits on health benefits, ensuring that people with disabilities will continue to receive the coverage they need. CDR and ADAPT have focused for more than two years on parts of the ACA that support the expansion of home and community based supports. In addition, the law furthers the promise of the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision , which gives people with disabilities the right to receive long term services and supports in the most integrated setting in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act . The law extends and enhances the Federal Money Follows the Person program, which in the past five years has helped 20,000 people move out of institutions and into less costly, more independent, community-based settings. The law also creates the Community First Choice Option, which offers the incentive of a six percent increase in Federal Medicaid matching rate for states that provide community services as an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities enrolled in Medicaid. This incentive encourages states to provide community cased services to people with disabilities, which means fewer individuals with disabilities would be forced into institutions.

The decision does eliminate the federal government’s authority to penalize states for choosing not to expand Medicaid, making the Medicaid expansion – like the provisions eliminating the institutional bias – optional. This could have serious consequences for people in states that choose not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. This means that we now have the tools to provide health care and eliminate the institutional bias, but it’s up to states to make that happen. In a time when states face serious fiscal concerns, they may be less inclined to do this so state-level advocacy is now more important than ever. CDR and ADAPT are calling upon disability, aging, religious, labor and civil rights groups to work together to advocate that states take advantage of these new opportunities and develop state-level My Medicaid Matters campaigns because MY MEDICAID MATTERS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=856VPrTrr_M.