Disability advocates like most of Supreme Court health care ruling

Advocates for people with disabilities generally praised Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling that upholds most of the federal health care law.

They have concerns, though, about the part of the ruling that disallowed the federal government’s ability to withhold Medicaid dollars from states that don’t expand their Medicaid programs (or in Minnesota, Medical Assistance) to cover more of the uninsured.

Steve Larson, senior policy director for The Arc Minnesota, said in a statement:

“This ruling is a victory for Minnesotans with disabilities and their families. Upholding the Affordable Care Act means many of the law’s provisions that benefit people with disabilities will either stay in place or move ahead.

“Children with pre-existing conditions can continue to receive coverage, and adults with those conditions will be covered in 2014. Families who have children with serious medical conditions will not have to worry about caps on their health care benefits. Minnesota adults with disabilities can still receive the coverage that Minnesota started last year that expanded Medical Assistance for low income adults.”

Larson’s comments amplified comments from Marty Ford, national director of public policy for The Arc:

“People with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been waiting for generations for the insurance reforms put in place by the Affordable Care Act. Today’s ruling removes any doubts that the law Congress enacted should stand and will benefit millions of people with and without disabilities.  It ends discriminatory insurance practices and makes health coverage more affordable and accessible – important protections which too many people with disabilities have been deprived of for too long.”

Larson said there are some lesser-known provisions of the law that help those with disabilities:

  • The option for states like Minnesota to allow people with disabilities more control over the funding they receive for personal support staff. 
  • Added federal funding and support to states so they can move people with disabilities from institutions to places in the community.
  • More opportunities for training of health care providers (including dentists) on the needs of persons with developmental and other disabilities.

On the part of the ruling that disallowed the federal government’s ability to withhold Medicaid dollars, Ford said:

 “This might mean that people with disabilities who would have benefited from the expansion could be left behind. Medicaid is an incredibly important lifeline for them, providing both health care and long-term services and supports.”

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