Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — the name of the healthcare reform we passed two years ago. In doing so, they’ve re-affirmed a fundamental principle: that here in America, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.
…Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.
…First: if you are one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable. Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive. They can no longer discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions. They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick. They can no longer jack up your premiums without reason. They are required to provide free preventive care like checkups and mammograms — a provision that’s already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance. And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will recieve a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses and not enough on your healthcare.
There’s more: because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parents’ healthcare plans — a provision that’s already helped six million young Americans. And because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs — a discount that’s already saved more than five million seniors on Medicare about $600 each.
…Now, if you’re one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014, this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable private health insurance plans to choose from. Each state will take the lead in designing their own menu of options, and if states can come up with even better ways of covering more people at the same quality and cost, this law allows them to do that too.
And I’ve asked Congress to help speed up that process and give states this flexibility in year one. Once states set up these health insurance marketplaces known as ‘exchanges,’ insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against any American with a pre-existing health condition. They won’t be able to charge you more just because you’re a woman. They won’t be able to bill you into bankruptcy. If you’re sick, you’ll finally have the same chance to get quality, affordable health care (like) everyone else.
Today the Supreme Court upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance. This is important for two reasons: First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick and show up to the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums. And second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need — which would also drive up everybody else’s premiums.
That’s why even though I knew it wouldn’t be politically popular — and resisted the idea when I ran for this office — we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so. In fact, this idea’s enjoyed support from members of both parties — including the current Republican nominee for president.
…It should be pretty clear by now I didn’t do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for the country. I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.
…The highest court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law, and we’ll work together to improve on it where we can. But what we won’t do — what the country can’t afford to do — is re-fight the political battles of two years ago or go back to the way things were."