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Supreme Court’s decision has disability advocates cheering

Published on July 5th, 2012

When the Supreme Court ruled on the Affordable Care Act last week, there was a lot at stake for a lot of people. Of course, opinions were often divided by politics, but certain groups likely benefitted from the ruling, and those who depend on disability benefits fall into that category.

In a 5-4 ruling last week, the court decided that the Affordable Care Act, or most of it, is constitutional, meaning that changes will be implemented between now and 2014. Some of those changes will affect those with disabilities.

For one thing, insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage or charge higher rates to those with pre-existing conditions. That includes people with disabilities. Health insurance plans will also be required to cover “essential benefits,” which includes behavioral health treatment, mental illness services and rehabilitation services.

Also, there would be no more lifetime coverage limits on health insurance plans, and there would be increased federal matching funds available to support community living.

One concern, however, is that if states decide against Medicaid expansion, many disabled people would get less money if they earn “too much” to qualify for certain benefits. The court has ruled that a Medicaid expansion could not be imposed, so some states may decide against it.

Still, according to the chair of the National Council on Disability, last week’s ruling may be the most significant for those with disabilities since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed 22 years ago.

Source: Disability Scoop, “Health care ruling a win, disability advocates say,” Michelle Diament, June 29, 2012

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