Washington Updates (03.28.12)
The National Urban League Wire
Published: Wed. Mar 28, 2012 at 11:52 am | Updated: Wed. Mar 28, 2012 at 11:52 am | Comments: 0

Supreme Court Reviews Historic Health Care Reform Law 

Just one week following the second anniversary of the enactment of the historic health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in the case of Florida vs. HHS for six hours over the next three days. The court will be considering four major questions about the law. 

 (1)  Whether or not the law includes a tax and if so, does the Supreme Court have jurisdiction to decide the case?

  •  The theory of the 1867 law, the Anti-Injunction Act prevents citizens from challenging a tax law until they have actually paid the tax for which they are challenging. The Affordable Care Act tax provision does not begin until 2015, when some people may be penalized if for not maintaining health insurance

(2)  Whether or not the law's individual mandate is constitutional? 

  • The provision of the law requiring everyone to have health insurance and thus allowing to off-set costs and make coverage affordable for everyone is known as the so-called individual mandate provision. Those challenging the law maintain the federal government can not require citizens to buy the coverage, while the government counters that everyone consumes health care at one time or another. 

(3)  If the mandate is struck down, are the other provisions of the law also unconstitutional?

  • This question will allow the court to consider whether or not the other provisions, including those most well-received in the public, such as preventing insurance companies from denying insurance coverage for adults and children with pre-existing conditions must also fall.

(4)  Whether or not the law's provision to expand the Medicaid program is coercive is states? 

  • Medicaid is a joint federal-state program and states currently pay up to 50% of the costs to cover low-income and disabled individuals. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid would be expanded to cover more people and in the first three years the federal government would cover all of the costs. States would not be provided an option to opt-out of the expansion.  This provision is extremely important for low-income and vulnerable populations. This is why the National Urban League has joined other organizations in signing an amicus brief to uphold Medicaid expansion.

View NUL President and CEO Marc H. Morial's op-ed on protecting the Affordable Care Act.  Also read here to learn more about how the health law protects communities of color.

GOP BUDGET IS a giant step back for our most vulnerable citizens and communities

Debate on the budget proposal put forth by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is expected to begin on Wednesday, March 28th.   The plan essentially guts federal education spending and non-discretionary programs including SNAP, Supplemental Security Income for the elderly, disabled and poor, unemployment compensation, school lunch and other child nutrition programs, while delivering trillions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthy.  The plan also calls for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.   NUL released a statement calling the bill “beyond outrageous” and saying it offers “no path to prosperity, no better way forward for those in need—just a giant leap backward for the country.” 
On March 28, 2012, Politic365 will convene the Blueprint365 Policy Forum at the Liaison Hotel, 415 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001.  Dr. Valerie Rawlston Wilson, Vice President of Research and Economist at the National Urban League Policy Institute, will participate in a panel discussion about how the continued success and viability of the nation depends on the preparedness of young people and people of color to assume the reigns as the primary engines of the American workforce amidst an emerging digital economy.  Following the forum, a Game Changers reception honoring a distinguished group of bi-partisan, multi-cultural leaders from across the country will be held from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

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