All states have their eyes tuned to the Supreme Court this week, except Massachusetts. Residents of the Bay State resumed their Monday morning ritual with little fanfare. In fact, most discussions surrounded a recent baseball trade and the current heat wave, rather than the pending historic court decision. The reasoning behind this nonchalant attitude: Massachusetts residents do not have to be as concerned as the rest of the country, because the decision will have minimal impact.
To be honest the only reason Massachusetts residents need to pay attention to the decision is if they care about the uninsured in the49 other states. Everyone knows that Massachusetts inspired the framework for the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), despite protestations from the former Governor now running for President. Massachusetts has most of the major tenets already enacted throughout the state with a high success rate. If the Supreme Court does the unthinkable and overturns the law, Massachusetts has little reason for concern. Here are six things you need to know:
1. The individual mandate: The court is currently debating the constitutionality of requiring every citizen to have health insurance. In Massachusetts this is state law and residents are required to be insured.
2. If overturned the decision will have no impact and would neither trump nor compel a review of the current state law.
3. Pre-existing conditions: Insurers cannot deny any residents for a pre-existing condition
4. If overturned this will have a big impact for the rest of the country, but Massachusetts has universal health coverage with aggressive insurance regulations
5. Expanding coverage for low income residents: The justices are currently deciding whether the federal government can force states to expand coverage
6. If overturned, many people who are currently uninsured, under-insured, or not receiving adequate care due to the inability to afford insurance will continue to be unable to purchase coverage. Massachusetts already has a Health Connector where individuals and small businesses can purchase plans to meet coverage standards.
If the law gets overturned it will affect Massachusetts residents through the new or expanded programs which depend on federal law to stay in business. Infrastructure built through the law would find that they are now short in cash. Specifically, community health centers would be extremely vulnerable to federal cuts that are now protected by the ACA.
The good news is that many health insurers have promised to extend two popular provisions in the advent of an overturn. Health plans have pledged to continue to allow young adults to stay on their parent’s coverage until they are 26 years old and will continue to cover preventive services with no co-payments.
The bottom line: if ACA gets overturned it might be time for the youth of the country to think about moving to the Bay State. Plus we have some awesome sports teams.