The U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision yesterday is a victory for all Americans, both the insured and the uninsured.
The most important provisions of the Affordable Care Act were upheld as constitutional, expanding insurance coverage for millions.
The Latino community, which has the highest national percentage of uninsured, understands too well the impact of not having health insurance. Now, individuals and patients will have legal protections to shield them from the increasing coverage restrictions insurance companies impose on insured patients and those with preexisting medical conditions.
This will be possible because the justices confirmed the lawfulness of mandating all Americans to have health insurance – an indispensable provision to tilt a health care system that depends too heavily on the decisions of profit-focused insurance companies.
The Court’s ruling should also accelerate the process of implementing an insurance exchange and other aspects of the law.
While we applaud the decision and the law, we remain concerned that the undocumented are excluded from coverage. It is now up to the states to implement mechanisms to strengthen, for example, a network of community clinics to treat these patients.
The decision is also a huge victory for President Obama. His challenge now is to convince indecisive voters that this is not an invasion by the government, or an unnecesary new tax -as Republicans quickly fired back- and it carries concrete benefits for individuals. The law does not dismantle the private healthcare industry and is not federal intervention, as critics falsely claim.
Some will turn the elections into a referendum on the health care law.
But after all, voters will be the ones who decide in November if the law should continue to be implemented as Barack Obama wants or should be completely repealed as Mitt Romney has proposed.