Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas' statement on Supreme Court healthcare law decision

Today, the United States Supreme Court preserved the fundamental right to health care for millions of families.

The court upheld the entire Affordable Care Act, with the exception that the federal government’s power to terminate states’ Medicaid funds is narrowly read.

It is a good day for millions of Americans.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act now stands as the first substantial reform of the nation’s health care system since Medicare and the fulfillment of a goal each presidential administration claimed since the early 1900s.

President Obama and a bi-partisan Congress achieved the adoption of a national framework for financing health care coverage for 30 million Americans.

What will be the result of this decision?

1. Nearly 50,000 Americans who were denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions will have access to health coverage.
2. Twenty million women will not face steep costs to get life-saving procedures such as mammograms and pap smears.
3. The 25 million young adults can avoid catastrophic bills because they can stay on their parents’ insurance.

In Los Angeles County, we will feel the positive consequences, perhaps more than any other region.

This county has the largest number of uninsured people – 2.2 million – of any county in the nation, and we operate the nation’s second largest public health system, the health care provider of last resort for uninsured and indigent residents.

The County annually serves more than 700,000 patients, of whom nearly two-thirds lack health insurance.

Based on the results of the 2009 California Health Interview Survey, which surveyed 11,562 County residents, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 will extend health insurance coverage to nearly 80 percent (over 1.7 million) of the County’s uninsured, including an estimated 933,000 low-income residents who will become eligible for Medicaid after its coverage expansions are fully implemented in 2014.

This expanded Medicaid coverage will be especially important given the County’s large number of persons with chronic health conditions, who will no longer have to rely on costly, episodic care at crowded hospital emergency rooms.

So today we celebrate.This is a victory for President Obama and the Congress that achieved this iconic legislation. It is a victory for Americans who will gain more peace of mind in these uncertain times because they will gain more health care benefit security. It is a victory for the American system of justice and government.