WASHINGTON—Today the United States Supreme Court issued a decision upholding as a tax the provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires individuals to purchase a health plan—the so-called “individual mandate.”
For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform to ensure access to life-affirming health care for all, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable.Although the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) did not participate in these cases and took no position on the specific questions presented to the Court, USCCB’s position on health care reform generally and on ACA particularly is a matter of public record.The bishops ultimately opposed final passage of ACA for several reasons.
The following statement is being released by Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA):
The Catholic Health Association is taking time to carefully read and evaluate the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and may have additional comments once our review is complete.
We are pleased that, based on an initial read of the ruling, the ACA has been found constitutional and will remain in effect. CHA has long supported health reform that expands access and coverage to everyone. We signed onto amicus briefs encouraging the Court to find in favor of the ACA’s individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion.
As the ruling is examined, Catholic-sponsored health care providers will continue to lead health care transformation — finding new and better ways to provide compassionate, high-quality care while strengthening the communities we serve.
In the coming weeks and months we will continue working closely with our members, Congress and the Administration to implement the ACA as fairly and effectively as possible.
In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.
CHA Comments on the ANPRM on Women’s Preventive Health Services”>The Catholic Health Association has recently responded to the Department of Health and Human Services with regard to the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) on Women’s Preventive Health Services. The proposed rule, issued on March 21, 2012, by the IRS and the Departments of Treasury, Labor and HHS, suggests amendments to the religious exemption for certain women’s preventive health services coverage requirements. In developing their comments, CHA has consulted with a wide variety of organizations, including system and facility CEOs, advocacy directors, chief legal officers, ethicists, mission leaders, sponsors and a variety of other interested partners. The comment letter has been reviewed and approved by the CHA Board of Trustees. Additionally, we have shared these comments in a positive meeting with the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Read more.