Today, June 28, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) by a 5-4 decision. The majority opinion, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, who joined Justices Breyer, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Ginsburg, determines that the individual mandate is constitutional because it is a tax. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional. The Supreme Court further decided that the federal government cannot withhold existing Medicaid funding to states as punishment for states that do not comply with the expansion requirements. The entire Supreme Court decision can be found here.
Because the PPACA is constitutional, thousands of individuals with hematologic disorders will continue to benefit from the patient protections currently in effect, such as the elimination of lifetime limits on benefits, extension of dependent coverage to age 26, and elimination of pre-existing conditions exclusions for children. Most of the other private insurance reforms and coverage expansions in the law do not become effective until 2014. Today's decision will have a significant impact on the states, which may choose not to expand Medicaid coverage since the penalty of loosing existing federal funds has been removed. As implementation moves forward in 2014 and beyond, ASH will continue its advocacy on behalf of hematologists to ensure that patients with hematologic disorders have access to all appropriate therapies and care.
ASH will provide additional details about the decision in the coming weeks.
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