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|Gay groups react to Supreme Court ruling on 'Obamacare'|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|June 28, 2012 11:34|
National and local LGBT groups are praising today’s Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act. The court, in a 5-4 ruling, found the ACA mostly constitutional and upheld the controversial "individual mandate" portion of the law.
The law, often called Obamacare among politicos and pundits, is a landmark among President Barack Obama's presidential accomplishments. Several national LGBT and HIV groups supported the law, saying it would help those with HIV and other health conditions.
Signed into law in 2010, the ACA will make it easier for low and middle income Americans to purchase health insurance. Republicans have railed against the law, saying that a provision requiring Americans to purchase insurance, under the penalty of fines, is government overreach.
The Health Initiative, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that aims to be “Georgia’s voice for LGBTQ health and wellness,” commended the court for its ruling and called it “best possible outcome for LGBTQ Americans.”
Executive Director Linda Ellis said:
“With LGBTQ community members often lacking in options for health insurance for a variety of reasons, including unemployment, under employment, and denial of domestic partner benefits in a significant number of workplaces, this is a huge victory. Today’s decision allows the ACA to move forward and be fully implemented."
Scott Schoettes, HIV project director for Lambda Legal, praised the court's ruling in a statement released this morning:
“This is a victory for all Americans, but in particular, the Court's decision today will save the lives of many people living with HIV - as long as states do the right thing. The Affordable Care Act will finally allow people living with HIV to access medical advancements made years ago but that have so far remained out of reach of many. With continuing prevention education, early detection, and quality care for everyone living with HIV, we have the power to stem the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“But this is not a complete victory, because today's decision allows states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion that would provide insurance coverage for many low-income people who cannot otherwise afford it. Our continuing challenge will be to make sure that states opt to expand Medicaid so that more low-income people, and particularly those with HIV, can get the health care they urgently need.”
Lambda Legal submitted a friend-of-the-court-brief on behalf of more than a dozen LGBT and HIV organizations, including AIDS United, Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), the organization said.
National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis called healthcare a “human right” while praising the court for upholding the law:
“The Supreme Court did the right thing today in upholding the entirety of the Affordable Care Act and we applaud their reasoned decision. Healthcare is a significant piece of the American economy and a basic human right. This ruling ensures that millions of uninsured Americans will get access to healthcare and that no one will get a free ride.
“The ACA goes a long way toward leveling the playing field for LGBT Americans to get access to quality and affordable healthcare. The LGBT community is disproportionately affected by certain conditions for which insurance companies routinely denied or discontinued coverage before the enactment of the ACA. This ruling upholding the ACA will ensure that all Americans will have better and more affordable healthcare in the future.
“Mitt Romney and the GOP have been adamant that this law is unconstitutional and they were wrong. The individual mandate, which was the centerpiece of the GOP's faux outrage, was originally a Republican idea and now a conservative-leaning court has just upheld it in its entirety. In fact, Mitt Romney himself signed such a provision into law as governor of Massachusetts. This is one Etch-a-Sketch moment Mitt Romney cannot shake away.”
Some gay groups, however, criticized today's ruling, including two gay conservative political organizations.
Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of gay conservative group GOProud, said today's ruling would hurt gay and lesbian American families.
“Today, the Supreme Court has ignored the Constitution and given the federal government unfettered and unchecked power. Today is a good day for big government and a bad day for individual liberty.
“This decision reminds us of how important it is to elect conservatives to the House, Senate and the White House that will protect our individual liberties, because it is clear that the Supreme Court is unwilling to do so.
“Free market healthcare reform would expand access to domestic partner benefits and put gay people in charge of their healthcare decisions. By upholding Obamacare, the Supreme Court has upheld legislation that hurts all Americans, but especially hurts gay and lesbian families.”
Christian Berle, deputy executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, also knocked today's ruling:
“By upholding even the most intrusive provision of Obamacare, the individual mandate, the court has enabled Washington’s addiction to big government and coercive taxes.
“The individual mandate forced through Congress was an unprecedented expansion of federal power in blatant disregard of the will of the American people. Log Cabin looks forward to working with our Republican allies in Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with real, market-driven reforms that will lower costs while preserving the standard of care Americans deserve.
“Log Cabin Republicans also have not forgotten that Democrats in Congress stripped provisions protecting LGBT families out of healthcare reform when it was passed. We remain committed to ending the Internal Revenue Service’s discriminatory treatment of employer-provided healthcare for domestic partners.
“While the Court may have found Obamacare to be constitutional, that does not mean it has been carved in stone. Now is the time to go back to the drawing board and institute reforms that work for all Americans.”
Top photo: The Supreme Court of the United States of America (by Franz Jantzen via supremecourt.gov)
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