The Supreme Court of the United States decided today, in a 6-3 vote, to uphold the Affordable Care Act, saying it authorizes subsidies to those living in states with their own exchanges and citizens of the 34 states currently utilizing federal marketplaces.
The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness, expressed praise for the decision of the court.
“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness has advocated for affordable healthcare for all citizens of the United States for more than sixty years,” he said. “We are grateful that the Supreme Court upheld the legitimacy of state exchanges, which provide greater access to enrollment in states that are not participating in the federal effort to insure people. It is our hope that this decision will end the long and arduous debate over the Affordable Healthcare Act, and that our nation will now focus on other important issues related to poverty and inequality.”
PC(USA) advocates have a long history of supporting the ACA and other efforts to make healthcare more readily accessible.
In 2012, following the initial passage of the ACA, the Rev. Grayde Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly, issued a statement in which he expressed thanks for the act, noting that it would extend health benefits to millions of Americans who previously could not afford coverage.
“As Reformed Christians, we believe that all people possess inherent worth as children of God, and that God’s promise of abundant life extends to all,” Parsons said. “Health coverage must be available to all persons living in the United States, regardless of income, race or ethnicity, geography, age, gender, employment status, or health status. Presbyterians have worked both individually and collectively to move our nation toward a more inclusive and just system of health care—with a particular focus on persons whose health conditions or low income have created barriers to receiving needed health care. The Affordable Care Act is moving us in the right direction.”
Since passage of the ACA, the Presbyterian Board of Pensions has modified its care offerings to encompass the requirements of the new law. Board actions by the BOP in 2012 and 2013 adjusted coverage to comply with the mandate. A recent statement on its web site says the Board of Pensions is continually looking at the provisions of the ACA and adjusting their options as required.
“The Board of Pensions continues to implement all applicable provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). It monitors the law and related regulations, and assesses the impact on the Medical Plan of the PC(USA), employing organizations, and covered members. The Board is committed to helping all constituents of the plan understand your options and responsibilities under the law.”
In offering the majority opinion for the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts, an early defender of the constitutionality of the ACA, defended the intention of the Act as was interpreted by the Court in 2012.
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” he wrote. “If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”