Access to health care is a right and not a privilege. This is what Latinos believe and after a long, partisan battle that reached the Supreme Court for the second time, the justices upheld the subsidies that allow millions of families to maintain access to affordable health care, affirming that right.
Despite growing evidence that Americans are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many operatives continue their attempts to deny families the security of affordable care and threaten their stability. Today, the Supreme Court decided King v. Burwell, the second desperate attempt by partisan opponents of the ACA to destroy the law, and stated clearly and definitively that the ACA is legal and here to stay.
The justices rightfully upheld the subsidies that 9.6 million Americans currently depend on to be able to pay for afford their health care. Millions of Latinos also rely on the subsidies and were at risk of losing their care if the Supreme Court had decided differently today. Now, they can have peace of mind about their health security and that of their families.
In the five short years since the Affordable Care Act became law, 4.2 million Latinos have gained access to affordable health coverage. If that number isn't promising enough, a recent survey of potential Latino voters by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative demonstrated just how important the issue of affordable coverage will be in the 2016 presidential election. The poll found that an overwhelming majority of Latinos are in favor of the Affordable Care Act and report experiencing fewer barriers to accessing low-cost care. Forty-five percent of the respondents also said that they would be more likely to support a candidate who favored the Affordable Care Act. All of these proof points show the importance of the ACA, especially for Latinos.
This law has had an outsized impact on the Latino population. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the number of uninsured individuals within the Latino community decreased the most of any community. Before 2010, when the law was enacted, 41.8 percent of Latinos were uninsured; that number has since dropped by 12.3 points. Among Latinas, more specifically, the rate of uninsured has also dramatically declined from 20.8 percent to 8.4.
Latino voters who care about access to health care are concerned about the survival of the Affordable Care Act because it offers them important protections. The ACA prohibits insurance companies from denying people access to care because of so-called "preexisting conditions." According to a report by the National Council of La Raza, these kinds of clauses had allowed insurance companies to charge exorbitant and arbitrary rates for chronic illnesses that millions of Latinos suffer from such as hypertension and diabetes. In some of the more egregious cases, domestic violence has been considered a preexisting condition. Under the Affordable Care Act, more Latinos qualified for better care with 8.8 million people gaining access to preventive care services that help them monitor chronic afflictions.
The ACA also addresses some of the unique challenges that the Latino community faces in signing up for affordable coverage, including their status in this country. Obama administration officials have made great efforts to reach out to uninsured individuals or members of families who are undocumented to ensure that they know they do not face the risk of deportation when signing their eligible relatives up for coverage. The administration vowed to increase its outreach efforts and has already tripled spending this year on media to encourage 10 million more uninsured Latinos to get covered.
The Obama administration knows that every family deserves a chance to be healthy without going bankrupt. Today, the Supreme Court agreed and stood on the side of the 4.2 million Latino families who won't have to choose between going bankrupt and going to the doctor.