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Healthcare Justice March Applauds King v Burwell Ruling

Though the Healthcare Justice March applauds this decision, the Affordable Care Act is still costly and unjust for millions of people, according to organizers of the March. Tax credit subsidies help lower premiums but deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance are still prohibitively high.

Healthcare Justice March Applauds King v Burwell Ruling
Springfield, IL, June 26, 2015 --( The Healthcare Justice March, the demonstration taking place in the National Mall on August 1 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Medicare, issued this statement in response to the news that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act in King v. Burwell.

“The Healthcare Justice March joins in applauding this decision with all other healthcare activists who care most about the suffering of the people who would have been devastated by a ruling that would do away with the subsidies they rely on for even minimal health insurance, many of whom already fight with us for healthcare justice,” stated Sue Saltmarsh, director. “However, the ACA does nothing to further that cause and indeed perpetuates the economic injustice we see in so many aspects of our lives.”

King v. Burwell challenged an IRS regulation imposed under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that allows subsidies to be applied on both state and federal health insurance exchanges for people of low and middle income who could not otherwise afford the premiums. The issue at stake was whether the IRS may be permitted to extend tax-credit subsidies to plans purchased through federally-run exchanges.

“It has become clear over the last year of implementation of the ACA that people have been forced by the mandate to purchase prohibitively priced insurance. Worse, because of high deductibles, narrow provider networks, and unfair drug pricing, that insurance provides little to no actual care, especially for those living with chronic conditions that are expensive to treat,” says Saltmarsh. “The tax credit subsidies made premiums less onerous while doing nothing to lower high deductibles and medical loss ratios that victimize those who can afford the least and yet pay the most.”

A 2014 Commonwealth Fund survey found that four in 10 adults skipped some kind of care because of the cost. Because the exchange plans with the lowest premiums also carry the highest deductibles—the amount patients must pay before their insurance pays anything—enrollment, and subsidies, in those plans are higher than in so-called “gold” or “platinum” plans. Many have begun rationing their drugs and delaying doctors’ appointments or even stopped seeking medical attention at all.

“We believe it is these kinds of choices that have ‘lowered’ medical costs, rather than any actual savings from the medical industrial complex,” states Donna Ellington, assistant director. “Costs will of course be lower if people stop going to the doctor! But the cost to society and our economy will skyrocket as people get too sick to work, can’t pay their mortgages, have to use the ER because they haven’t had the treatment necessary to manage chronic disease, and even die needlessly.”

“The ACA has done three important things—it’s done away with the ‘pre-existing condition’ justification for denying care, ended gender-based discrimination, and enabled children to stay on their parents’ policies up to age 26,” Saltmarsh points out. “It has also perpetuated economic and racial disparities, enabled insurance company executives to continue to make absurdly high salaries, created a new kind of discrimination based on the cost of treatment for certain diseases, and contributed to the culture of greed and profit-over-people that is so pervasive in this country.”

The solution is clear and simple, according to the Healthcare Justice March – Expanded & Improved Medicare for All. Everybody covered from cradle to grave, no premiums, no deductibles, no co-pays or co-insurance. Drug prices kept low. Providers paid fairly and quickly. Compared to the 9.5% of your income the ACA requires you to spend before your insurance is considered “unaffordable,” the 3.3% most would pay in “higher” taxes is a bargain for what you would get in return.

“We have the legislation in Congress. We have the majority of the people supporting it. More will come to support it as they see what their costs are, even with subsidies,” says Saltmarsh. “But we need legislators on both sides of the aisle and a president who has a better vision of what healthcare should be in this country, as well as being able to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who can’t be swayed by special interests. And that is up to us.”

Contact: Sue Saltmarsh
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Healthcare Justice March
Sue Saltmarsh

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