Affordable Care Act Vital to People with I/DD

Vigorous advocacy by The Arc and a coalition of disability rights and other champions was crucial to the enactment of the historic health care reform legislation nine months ago. The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (together known as the Affordable Care Act) contain numerous provisions of importance to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

Now, the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is being tested. A narrow ruling yesterday in Virginia on the constitutionality of a provision of the Affordable Care Act is one of many recent rulings on similar cases in the past few months.

Opponents of reform have filed more than 20 different legal challenges since the law passed. The Administration’s motion to dismiss 12 of these cases has already been granted by judges. Moreover, in two cases, federal judges looked at the merits of the opponents’ arguments and determined that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and upheld the law.

Since the health reform law was passed there’s been tremendous progress to strengthen the nation’s health care system. A new patient’s bill of rights has been implemented to end some of the worst insurance company abuses and we are on a path to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities in health insurance.

It’s vital to our constituency that the courts find the Affordable Care Act constitutional, so that people with I/DD can have access to the following provisions and more:

  • Prohibiting private health insurance exclusions for pre-existing conditions.
  • Expanding Medicaid to cover individuals with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line (approximately $29,000 per year for a family of four).
  • Ensuring that minimum covered benefits include products and services that enable people with disabilities to maintain and improve function, such as rehabilitation and habilitation services and devices.
  • Improving training of physicians, dentists and allied health professionals on how to treat persons with disabilities.
  • Medicaid Community First Choice Option long term services and supportswith a 6 percent increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (or FMAP).

A member of The Arc who is a parent and a sibling in Minnesota said, “People with disabilities — especially young people — can look to a future free from the discrimination of being denied coverage due to preexisting conditions. This legislation is a relief for families and represents the hope we have that our needs will be met.”

Read more on Health Care Court Ruling on The White House Blog.