Navajo President Ben Shelly Commends Supreme Court Health Care Ruling
By: Jared King | June 28
Indian Health Care Improvement Act part of the sweeping health care law
WASHINGTON—Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly extolled the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling today upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The high court ruled in favor of the ACA by a vote of 5-4 with Chief Justice John G. Roberts as the deciding vote.
“Today’s decision on health care is a victory for Indian Country. The Indian Health Care Improvement Act, a provision in the Affordable Care Act, remains intact and I commend the Supreme Court’s decision. The Navajo Nation will now move to ensure consultation with the states to cover all Navajo citizens,” President Shelly said.
“The Indian Health Care Improvement Act contains provisions that will help to improve health care on the Navajo Nation. I’m relieved to see that the provisions remain undisturbed,” Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim said.
The federal health exchanges that will facilitate the implementation of the law will now be formed. The full implementation of the law will not happen for another 18 months, but several components are already in place. These include provisions allowing children to stay on their parents insurance to age 26, free health screening for the elderly, and no exclusions from coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
The high court upheld the constitutionality of the law in a decision affirming the government’s power to require that Americans have health insurance or pay a financial penalty.
The justices also ruled, however, that states may opt out of the law’s significant expansion of the Medicaid health care without losing all of their federal Medicaid funding.
The court’s decision was a significant legal, policy and political victory for President Obama and congressional Democrats. It should also help remove the uncertainty that’s hung over implementation of the health care overhaul.
For states, the ruling means they now have to get to work to implementing their obligations under the law — setting up health benefit exchanges.
States face a November 16 deadline to file for federal approval of their health exchanges, which will serve the individual and small-group insurance markets.
The decision also means the law’s complex framework remains intact.
Employers with 50 workers or more will be required to provide health insurance or pay penalties. Insurers will not be able to discriminate against sick people.
Subsidies to help pay for insurance will be extended to people earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Insurance companies will be forced to meet standards for how much money they spend on health care as opposed to administrative costs. And the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the doughnut hole will eventually disappear.