Houston state Sen. Rodney Ellis speaks on Supreme Court’s health care ruling

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State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, released a statement about the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act:

“I am extremely thankful that the U.S. Supreme Court did the right thing and upheld the Affordable Care Act. While not perfect, this law was passed overwhelmingly by both chambers of Congress after months of deliberation and was supported by virtually every major health organization in the nation. It is the greatest step toward universal access to affordable health care since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid, and it will help millions of uninsured Americans receive the care they need and deserve.

“People may disagree on the law, but one fact is indisputable – many people have and will benefit from the Affordable Care Act. While a large number of the provisions will do not take effect until 2014, many of the most popular are already in effect, and Texans are benefitting. Today, millions of women get preventive services like mammograms and pap smears without a co-pay. Health plans must now spend 80 to 85 percent of every premium dollar on health care, insurers can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, young adults can be covered under their parents plan until 26 years, and tax credits are available to small businesses to help cover premium costs. More than 120 of Texas’ largest employers have received over $445 million in federal support to make early retiree health coverage more affordable. In addition, 2.2 million Texas seniors in Medicare received preventive services or check-ups with no co-pay, and Texans saved $135 million on prescription drugs as a result of closing the Medicare prescription drug ‘donut hole.’ The greatest gains will come in 2014 when approximately 2 million more uninsured Texans will gain coverage through Medicaid and CHIP.

“Critics of the Affordable Care Act constantly say ‘Texas knows how to take care of Texans better than Washington.’ Reality says otherwise. Texas leads the nation in percentage uninsured, has one of the highest poverty and food insecurity rates, and has vast shortages of doctors, dentists, and nurses. In fact, Texas ranks at or near the bottom in nearly every important health care statistic you can name, and just chose to cut $10 billion more from our health care budget, including under-funding Medicaid by about $4 billion, plus deeper cuts to already-minimal services.

“Having access to quality, affordable health insurance is a fundamental human right and not a privilege. The Supreme Court has spoken and the Affordable Care Act is now officially the law of the land. It is long past time to remove narrow politics from the health care debate and focus on truly improving health of women, children, and all Americans. We can and must do better.”

– Anna M. Tinsley

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