NACHC Joins NHeLP Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court Supporting the Affordable Care Act
WASHINGTON -- Today the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) joined the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) and thirty-eight organizations of health care providers, consumers, and local health officials from around the country in an amicus brief before the United States Supreme Court supporting the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion.
"Community Health Centers and Medicaid share a unique partnership that has fought disease and chronic illness in medically underserved communities for over 45 years," said Roger Schwartz, Associate Vice President and Legal Counsel at the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). "Health centers provide care to 14 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries for one percent of the cost – and that record of cost-savings and achievement must continue as envisioned under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). To do otherwise means we as a nation will not only unravel the progress made in keeping communities healthy and disease free, but also undermine the future of health care delivery. We are also particularly concerned that a negative decision by the Court on Medicaid expansion could establish a very harmful precedent that limits federal operation of the Medicaid program in the years to come. It is both the threat to the ACA's expansion of Medicaid coverage and the potential of a very harmful court precedent that prompted NACHC to join in this amicus brief."
The NHeLP brief examines the nature and history of the Medicaid program from its enactment. The brief places the ACA’s expansion – which extends coverage to eligible persons up to 133% of the Federal poverty level – in this historical and legal context. Since 1965, Medicaid has operated as a voluntary joint partnership between states and the federal government. While Congress has made a number of changes to the program over time, Medicaid’s core framework has not changed and is not altered by the ACA.
“Our brief brings together decades of experience and expertise from public health advocates, providers, and health officials from around the nation, working on behalf of and serving vulnerable communities that rely on Medicaid,” said Jane Perkins, NHeLP legal director. “For over 45 years, Medicaid has played a critical role in expanding access to health care for millions of low-income individuals. The ACA’s Medicaid expansion is consistent with the history and purpose of the Medicaid program and will provide an additional 16 million individuals with health coverage they otherwise would not be able to afford.”
Community Health Centers serve over 20 million patients nationwide, nearly forty percent of them are uninsured, and 7 million rely on Medicaid. By the year 2015, it is projected that nearly half of health center patients will have Medicaid. Health centers generate $24 billion in annual savings to the health care system -- $6 billion of which accrues to states and the federal government through Medicaid.
A copy of the amicus brief is available on NHeLP's web site. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for and against the ACA on March 26th – 28th. The challenge to the Medicaid expansion is scheduled for March 28th.
Founded in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance and expand access to quality, community-responsive health care for America’s medically underserved and uninsured. NACHC represents the nation’s network of more than 1,250 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) which serve more than 20 million people through 8,000 sites located in all of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.
The Amicus Brief