(PRESS RELEASE) The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a significant decision protecting affordable, quality health care benefits for millions across the U.S. under the Affordable Care Act.
The Court’s decision in King v. Burwell preserves the Affordable Care Act’s federal tax credits for individuals who need assistance affording mandatory coverage through Health Insurance Marketplaces established by the federal government in the 34 states that have refused to establish state-run Marketplaces. Today’s ruling safeguards those tax credits for individuals obtaining health coverage through these federally-run Marketplaces, in addition to the 16 state-run consumer Marketplaces.
According to the Court, “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.”
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“The nation’s highest court has once again recognized the plain truth that affordable access to health care represents an immense benefit to millions of Americans, especially women and their families.
“Today’s ruling ensures that women will keep preventive health coverage made possible through the Affordable Care Act, including an affordable contraception benefit that empowers women to plan their families, prevents unintended pregnancy, and saves billions in health care costs every year.
“It should send a strong message to those seeking to undermine this historic expansion of health care benefits that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights is one of 68 organizations that signed on to an amicus brief in the King v. Burwell case, submitted by the National Women’s Law Center, which argued that the tax credits are critical to ensuring millions of women maintain their affordable health care benefits.
The Affordable Care Act—which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 —vastly expanded women’s access to preventive health care without copayments, including contraception, cancer screenings, HIV and STI testing, well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, and prenatal and post-partum care and counseling.
Ninety-nine percent of all sexually active women in the U.S. use birth control at some point during their reproductive years. The Affordable Care Act’s expanded coverage for contraception vastly increases the accessibility of birth control for women who need it, especially those interested in using long-acting reversible contraception like IUDs, which often had a high upfront cost and co-pay. Unfortunately, that important expansion of coverage was undercut by the Supreme Court’s June 2014 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which allowed some private companies to limit their employees’ birth control coverage under the ACA’s preventive health provision based on the religious opinions of corporate owners.