Today marks the first of three days that the Supreme Court will hear arguments concerning whether the mandated minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires that a person purchase minimum health coverage or face a modest monetary penalty beginning in 2014, is constitutional under the Commerce clause of the US Constitution. Both supporters and opponents of the ACA are gathered outside of the Supreme Court.
Before the Justices hear the case, they must first determine whether they are permitted to hear the case under the 1867 Anti-Injunction Act, which states that "no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person." In other words, the Act requires that a tax first be paid before it can be challenged in court. The first taxes associated with the ACA would not be due until April 2015.
Currently under the ACA, daughters and sons under 26 years of age can receive insurance through their parents' coverage, the donut hole for seniors is closing, and certain preventive procedures, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and pap smears, no longer require a co-payment or other direct costs. President Obama signed the final version of the Affordable Care Act in March. The final law will eventually add coverage for 32 million people, increasing access to family planning and preventive care.
Media Resources: New York Times 3/26/12; Huffington Post 3/26/12; Washington Post 3/26/12
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .