Washington, D.C. – The National Organization for Women has long believed that health care is a basic right that should be available to every woman, man and child in the country. As a result of the Affordable Care Act, over 10 million more people have health care. This was a step in the right direction toward truly universal coverage.
But the U.S. Supreme Court under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts is considering gutting the ACA on the flimsiest of technicalities — with devastating consequences for millions of people, disproportionately women and especially women of color.
Under the ACA, the federal government subsidizes the cost of premiums for individuals with low incomes, no matter where they live. Sixteen states have established their own insurance exchanges, but 34 states, mostly controlled by Republican legislatures hostile to Obamacare, have refused. The federal government created exchanges in those states. The Roberts Court is considering ruling that subsidies can only go to people in states with their own exchanges, leaving those in the 34 states that rely on federally-facilitated exchanges without any subsidies. Many of those people would simply lose their health coverage.
Such a ruling is possible because of one phrase in the entire law, read out of context and without regard to the plain language of the relevant sections read as a whole.
The impact on women would be harsh:
- According to the National Women’s Law Center, over nine million women nationwide are eligible for premium subsidies, but nearly seven million of them live in states with federally-facilitated Marketplaces.
- And, of those seven million women who could lose their subsidies, nearly half (3.4 million) are women of color.
Without those subsidies, millions of women would lose access to essential health services including preventive care like birth control, prenatal care, mammograms and cervical cancer screenings, and medical treatment when they become ill.
NOW calls on the Roberts Court to set aside political ideology, respect the structure and purpose of the ACA, and read its relevant sections together instead of in a vacuum. For those Justices so consumed with hate for Obamacare that they will grasp at any straw to undo it, we have a suggestion: run for Congress yourselves.