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Affordable Care Act Turns Two: Celebrate & Head to Court

March 23, 2012

NEW YORK – Friday marks the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), although the celebration could be short-lived as the nation's highest court prepares to hear legal challenges to the law next week.

Heidi Siegfried, health policy director for the Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York (CIDNY), says the ACA will eventually extend health insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans, but in only its second year, she gives it credit for helping millions in New York and the nation.

"In fact already, over two million New Yorkers with disabilities and seniors have received preventive services without a copay due to the Affordable Care Act."

The U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing the closely watched case on Monday, and a key issue is whether Congress exceeded its authority in creating a mandate that requires most adults to carry health insurance.

Siegfried says three days for opening arguments is more time than the Supreme Court usually allots for a case. She notes the stakes are high, particularly for lower-income people. However, she predicts the ACA will pass the legal test.

"If the Supreme Court follows its precedent, the Affordable Care Act will be upheld. But if part of it were to be struck down, these are some of the things that people could lose. We don't know what the plan would be, if they were to lose these."

New York submitted arguments in favor of the Affordable Care Act, while Florida's legal challenge to the law includes 26 states that contend the ACA violates the U.S. Constitution.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY