HCH Response to Affordable Care Act Decision of Supreme Court

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council celebrates the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act and calls on the States to proceed with implementation of the Medicaid expansion.

John Lozier

“The Medicaid expansion to citizens under 138% of the poverty level promises life-sustaining care for millions of people who are simply too poor for the health care marketplace,” said John Lozier, Executive Director of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. “Of the 800,000 patients seen at Health Care for the Homeless projects nationally, 65% are uninsured, and obtaining specialty care and hospital services for them has been a terrible challenge. Their new eligibility for Medicaid will greatly improve their access to the health care they need to manage and recover from their illnesses, and to overcome their homelessness.”

Under the Court’s ruling, States will not be penalized for failing to expand their Medicaid programs to reach everyone under the poverty level. The Affordable Care Act provides 100% federal funding for the expansion in its first years and 90% federal funding in later years. “It is hard to imagine why States would not take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to improve the health of the citizenry,” said Lozier, “yet some have been dragging their feet and not working toward implementation of the law. Now that the constitutionality question is settled, every State should proceed to extend Medicaid benefits to their people.”

Bobby Watts

“In upholding the Medicaid expansion to almost all poor people, with the glaring exception of undocumented people, the Court has remedied the fundamental injustice that many poor people cannot obtain proper health care,” said Bobby Watts, President of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. “Medicaid coverage is an important tool in the fight to end homelessness, and this decision marks an important step toward true health care justice.

“The Court’s decision leaves it to the States to decide whether or not to insure the most impoverished of their citizens, with full funding from the federal government. We now must work to ensure that States make the right decisions, that homeless people are actually enrolled, that State-level benefit packages are adequate, and that the supply of health care providers who accept Medicaid is sufficient,” noted Watts.

“We will continue to advocate for a more sustainable, commonsense single-payer approach to the larger health care system,” he said, “but today we celebrate a Supreme Court decision that recognizes health care as a national concern and one that has vast economic implications for individuals, families, communities, and indeed, all of society.”