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High Court ruling could hurt poor

Wed, Aug 22, 2012

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court made the decision to largely uphold Obama’s historic health care legislation. While many consider the ruling a first, although incomplete, step towards ensuring universal health care for all Americans, the court’s decision to limit the expansion of Medicaid could ensure America’s poor and needy remain worse off.

The Supreme Court decision issued Thursday, June 20, upheld in part and rejected in part President Obama’s historic health care legislation.

In its 5-4 majority opinion, the Court upheld most of the Affordable Care Act. Most noteworthy, the Court upheld the provision of the Act known popularly as the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a tax for failing to do so.

The Court also limited the law’s expansion of Medicaid, the joint state-federal program that provides health care to poor and disabled families and individuals. In rejecting the Act’s expansion of Medicaid, the Court left the biggest obstacle to obtaining health care on the poorest and neediest in our society.

In short, the court affirmed that health care reform was constitutional and an acceptable government action, except for the provision that addressed the neediest. Medicaid rules are already infamously complex. The new law will simplify eligibility and its complete expansion would have meant that in most cases people under the age of 65 would be able to obtain Medicaid if their income was less than or equal to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, presently $25,390 for a family of three.

Tom Benner, Spare Change News

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