We are breathing a stunned sigh of relief over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision largely to uphold the Affordable Care Act. The Court said the law is constitutional based on Congress’ taxation powers, not under the Commerce Clause. We’ll take it. Had the law been overturned, the Court would have plunged the nation into a dark moment in history – not only for health care, but also for the civil rights of LGBT people, women and other persecuted communities.
Repeal of the Affordable Care Act – which again, thankfully did not happen – would have had a brutal impact on LGBT people in New Jersey and in every other jurisdiction without marriage equality. LGBT families already endure a tough time getting health care coverage through insurance companies that refuse to recognize their relationships.
The law has several provisions prohibiting health insurers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or a person’s having HIV or AIDS. Our transgender sisters and brothers have endured enough suffering at the hands of insurance companies who do not want to cover their medically necessary care. Repeal of the law would have compounded the discrimination they face. And we are thrilled for our sisters and brothers in the HIV community, for whom the law expanded access to testing, prevention and treatment.
As Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said, LGBT people “face numerous barriers to health—from providers who don’t understand their unique health needs to difficulty getting health insurance because they can’t get coverage through a partner or spouse. The Affordable Care Act may represent the strongest foundation we have ever created to begin closing LGBT health disparities.”
For the entire nation and especially for its oppressed communities, including the LGBT community, today’s ruling represents a thankful moment in history.