Advocates on Steps of Congress 2013
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Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Health Care Act

A Brief Commentary By Scleroderma Foundation CEO, Robert J. Riggs

Affordable Health Care Act thumbnail image
For a brief synopsis of PPACA and the Supreme Court decision, click to enlarge this summary.

It’s inconceivable to believe that anyone has missed yesterday’s big news on healthcare reform with the United States Supreme Court ruling to uphold the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”). News organizations, pundits, bloggers, and elected officials from both sides of the issue have been scrambling towards the bright lights and live microphones of media to weigh in on their views related to this landmark legislation, and now landmark ruling by the nation’s highest court.

The membership of the Scleroderma Foundation is a microcosm of the United States as a whole, with patients, family members, researchers, physicians, and friends from every walk of life, every socio-economic strata, race, ethnicity, and political point of view represented. We’ve received calls and emails from many members asking what yesterday’s ruling on PPACA means to the scleroderma community. And many of the comments I’ve heard have come down along political affiliation lines.

While the Scleroderma Foundation has an active patient advocacy program and frequently engages with elected officials in Washington, the Foundation has not taken a particular stance, nor advocated directly for or against PPACA. Our advocacy goals focus on greater funding at the Federal level for scleroderma-specific research and awareness of the disease. We have made significant headway in these efforts by advocating for support of the “Scleroderma Research and Awareness Act” (Senate Bill 649, and House Resolution 1672).

Like many of you, I have my own opinion about PPACA. I will not use the platform given to me by the Scleroderma Foundation to advance my views. There are already too many “talking heads” in this world trying to sway the population to their way of thinking. I will say this, however:

Healthcare in this country and world-wide will continue to evolve. Delivery of healthcare – and access to it – will also continue to evolve as science and technology continue to change and, hopefully, improve our lives. This is not a Republican or Democratic position.  It’s just fact. And societies will have to grapple with these changes and adapt in order to ensure the wellbeing of their populations. I, for one, cannot be sorry that the United States is working towards a society where people living with chronic diseases need not fear life-time caps on healthcare coverage, regardless of ability to pay. I cannot be sorry that attempts are being made to help ensure that the loss of a job or change of employment equals the loss of healthcare coverage. I cannot be sorry that steps are being made towards eliminating pre-existing conditions as a barrier to obtaining health insurance.

I believe that the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold PPACA is only the beginning of many years of changes ahead. Like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which continues to evolve to this day, PPACA is in its first iteration. I look forward to being a part of the ongoing process and civil dialogue, which will be ongoing for years. Through it all, the only side I’m interested in being on is that of people who need quality healthcare to live better, more productive lives. 

Through all of the rhetoric playing out on the airwaves about healthcare and the political ramifications it has in this election year, I am most interested in the voice of patients. Working together, we can help make sure patients’ voices don’t get lost in the partisan roar.

 

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