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View More Press Releases by National Senior Citizens Law Center

Press release:

Aging Groups Say Health Reform Provisions Affecting Seniors Should Not Be Tied to Supreme Court's Ruling on Individual Mandate

Issued by: National Senior Citizens Law Center

Date: Jan. 31, 2012

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2012 -- Six national aging groups filed a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court last Friday saying that there are extensive provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that are of "vital importance to the health and well-being of people 65 and older" and that Congress did not intend for any of them to be contingent on whether or not the minimum coverage provision (also called the individual mandate) was constitutional.

"The health and quality of life of many older Americans are already improving because of the health reform law," says National Senior Citizens Law Center Executive Director Paul Nathanson. "We don't believe Congress intended to let the elderly poor languish in nursing homes or be subject to abuse if the individual mandate was found unworkable."

The amicus brief was filed in the National Federation of Independent Business et al v Kathleen Sebelius et al and the State of Florida et al v Department of Health and Human Services et al cases which challenge the constitutionality of the health reform law. In those cases, the petitioners contend that all of the ACA should fall if the minimum coverage provision is invalidated by the Court.

The brief states that a "careful review" of policies Congress sought to enact shows that the provisions affecting people aged 65 and over "can be effectuated without any reliance on the minimum coverage provision."

The brief also highlights the parts of the ACA that greatly benefit people aged 65 and older that should not be affected should the Court decide to invalidate the minimum coverage provision, including:

  • Reduced cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries for prescription drugs by substantially reducing the coverage gap or so-called donut hole
  • Elimination of cost-sharing for annual wellness visits and other screening services
  • Medicare Advantage plans are prevented from charging higher cost-sharing for chemotherapy and dialysis than permitted under traditional Medicare
  • Decreased unnecessary institutionalization of Medicaid beneficiaries
  • Improved coordination of care for people receiving both Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligibles)
  • Improved quality and safety in nursing homes and prevention of abuse and neglect of elderly and people with disabilities in nursing and other residential facilities.
The brief states that the only provisions that should be affected by the constitutionality of the minimum coverage provision are the pre-existing condition, the community rating and guaranteed issue provisions.

"The rest of the ACA, including, but in no way limited to the provisions highlighted in this amicus brief, should remain intact," the brief concludes.

Joining in the amicus brief are: AARP, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc., Medicare Rights Center, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, National Council on Aging, and National Senior Citizens Law Center.

To read the amicus brief, click here. To speak to Rochelle Bobroff, counsel of record for the brief, contact Scott Parkin at NSCLC.

The National Senior Citizens Law Center is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to protect the rights of low-income older adults. Through advocacy, litigation, and the education and counseling of local advocates, we seek to ensure the health and economic security of those with limited income and resources, and access to the courts for all. For more information, visit our Web site at www.NSCLC.org.

Protecting the rights of low-income older adults.

Through advocacy, litigation, and the education and counseling of local advocates, we seek to ensure the health and economic security of those with limited income and resources, and access to the courts for all.

New Year's Resolution: Subscribe to our biweekly newsletter Washington Report. Click here to find out more.

View More Press Releases by National Senior Citizens Law Center


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