For Immediate Release - June 28, 2012

AG Coakley Statement on Ruling by Supreme Court Decision to Uphold National Health Care Law

AG Argued in Amicus Brief that Massachusetts Health Care Reform Demonstrated Benefits of Reducing Number of Uninsured on National Level

BOSTON – Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley issued the following statement in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA):

“We applaud the Court’s decision today. Massachusetts served as a model for national health care reform and we have already experienced the many benefits of increasing access to quality, affordable health care. Today’s decision is a victory for millions of Americans who will see increased access to care, coverage that cannot be denied based on pre-existing medical conditions, and the ability to keep their children covered until they turn 26.

“Massachusetts has already begun tackling the next great health care challenge – controlling costs for our families and businesses. With today’s decision, I hope our nation will continue to move forward and do the same.”

BACKGROUND:

In January 2012, AG Coakley filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) pdf format of 2012-01-13-health-care-amicus.pdf
.  In that brief, the AG argued that Massachusetts’ own experience supports the federal government’s basis for passing national health care reform.

The federal minimum essential coverage provision at issue in this case was modeled on a similar provision in Massachusetts law, which requires most Massachusetts residents to obtain health insurance.  Based on Massachusetts’ experience, AG Coakley argued that preventing healthy people from foregoing health insurance until they are sick or injured (a practice referred to as “free-riding”), generates substantial economic benefits.

Among the tangible benefits of health care reform in Massachusetts cited in the Attorney General’s brief included:

  • An increase in the number of insured residents to more than 97% of the state’s population in 2009, up from 87.5% in 2006, giving Massachusetts the lowest rate of uninsured residents in the country;
  • The gains in Massachusetts residents with health insurance spurred a corresponding sharp decline in the amount of state spending on “free care” for the uninsured and underinsured. The costs of free care dropped from $709.5 million in fiscal year 2006 to $414 million in fiscal year 2009.

Moreover, the Attorney General argued that despite Massachusetts’s intrastate success in improving access to quality health care and reducing spending on “free care,” national health care reform, such as that embodied in the PPACA, is required to grapple with interstate (and international) health care trends that individual states – acting alone – have little power to influence.

Assistant Attorneys General Daniel Hammond, Emiliano Mazlen, Thomas O’Brien, and Sarah Ragland, and Policy Analyst Merritt Dattel McGowan, assisted in the drafting of the AG’s Brief. 

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You may view the U.S. Supreme Court's decision at the following link: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-393c3a2.pdf