Detroit, MI – The Michigan Universal Health Care Network (MICHUHCAN) is relieved that the Supreme Court has overruled yet another effort by opponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) to revoke the law through legal maneuvers. The Supreme Court rejected a challenge in 2012 regarding the financial penalty imposed on those who do not acquire health insurance. We can only hope that this is the last time opponents will attempt to use our legal system to overturn the ACA.
The ACA is an imperfect, but essential step in the necessary direction to achieve universal health care. Most Americans now qualify for health care coverage. Many of our working poor are now covered through the expanded Medicaid program, and our struggling families have the support they need through insurance subsidies.
To President Obama’s credit, the ACA is indeed a “stone firmly laid in the foundation of the American dream.” As a foundation block for universal access to health care and, in turn, health equity, the ACA includes many programmatic initiatives that are improving the quality of health care services, the training of much-needed primary care physicians and dentists, and the assurance that people most in need of health insurance will have it.
We need to remain vigilant in our enrollment efforts during the open enrollment period for the Healthcare Exchange and the ongoing Healthy Michigan enrollment. We also need to reach others who remain disconnected from health and human services. We must support the development of free clinics, often the first connection for disenfranchised people.
The challenge of expanded health coverage for all Americans requires that we learn to take better care of ourselves and use expensive health services more prudently – this goes for providers as well as consumers. We need to minimize the use of emergency facilities for urgent care of chronic illnesses and primary care, which are better treated in the ambulatory setting.
We also need to promote a better understanding of health — from health insurance and the health care system to basic concepts of health literacy.
We are grateful that the Supreme Court has made a sensible decision. Now we must renew our commitment to universal health care. The ACA is a great moment in American health policy – in the legacy of Medicare and Medicaid. But it is only a step in the right direction.
Help us continue defending the ACA!
Michigan Universal Health Care Access Network (MICHUHCAN) is a state-wide network that promotes comprehensive health care for all and improved health outcomes by addressing the social determinants of health through education, strategy development and advocacy. For more information on MICHUHCAN visit www.michuhcan.org.