Congressman Eliot Engel issued the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act was constitutional. Rep. Engel is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health, and a longtime supporter of the Affordable Care Act.
“I am both pleased and a little surprised to see that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act, flying in the face of conservative pressure, similar to their decision in the Arizona immigration case earlier this week. After their partisan decisions in Bush v. Gore and Citizens United, I was not alone in my skepticism that they could avoid politics on this issue. I am very pleased to see they upheld this law, as I was always certain of its constitutionality.
“Republicans in Congress, big corporations and Tea Party activists have been banging the drum against the Affordable Care Act since 2009, overwhelming the American people with fear mongering and misinformation. They threw everything they had at the law, the President and Democrats in Congress in an effort to prevent health care coverage for millions of Americans. Many Members of Congress lost their jobs in 2010 based on their support of this law and I am pleased to see that they did not fight that fight in vain. Lessening the health care costs for our nation and providing badly-needed coverage to almost every American was something we needed to do. Perhaps now, Republicans in the House will cease their endless attacks and pointless repeal votes and work with Democrats on the other issues facing the American people – such as creating jobs, fixing our education and immigration system, and working in a bipartisan manner to run the country.
“Americans are benefitting from the Affordable Care Act, and now the benefits will continue and expand. In New York, 160,000 young adults have health care coverage on their parents’ plans – 3.1 million nationwide – and are now going to be able to continue regular doctor visits and have a better chance of leading healthy lives.
“Over 254,000 people in New York received a $250 rebate to help cover prescription drug cost after they hit the so-called donut hole in 2010. New Yorkers with Medicare have saved over $269 million on their medication since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. In 2012, over 50,000 New Yorkers with Medicare received a 50% discount on covered brand name medications when they hit the donut hole. That donut hole will continue to shrink until it is closed once and for all.
“In 2011, over two million New Yorkers with Medicare received free preventative services – such as mammograms and colonoscopies – or a free annual wellness visit with their doctor. Over 888,000 New Yorkers have done so in 2012, potentially receiving care needed to prevent a deadly disease from costing them more money for future care, and putting their lives at risk. Now, more and more New Yorkers will be able to receive care early and prevent diseases from taking hold. Also, sick individuals who rely on their health insurance coverage to treat serious diseases no longer have lifetime caps on their coverage, and starting in 2014, cannot have annual caps placed on that coverage.
“As of this spring, over 3300 previously uninsured New Yorkers who were locked out of coverage because of a pre-existing condition were able to be insured through a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. This coverage has saved lives and kept these families from potentially falling into bankruptcy to pay for treatment needed to keep them alive. Now these families, and others who will one day require coverage, will be able to keep paying for treatment and focus on getting better instead of worrying about finances.
“The Affordable Care Act is now the law of the land. I am hopeful my Republican colleagues will now work with me to improve the law, instead of trying to tear it down. The Court did the American people a huge favor today by standing with them and focusing on the law instead of the politics. I am hopeful this will continue in the future and other upcoming landmark court decisions will not be predicated on politics.”