By Stephon Johnson, Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News –
Last Friday, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), the American Civil Liberties Union and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court expressing their support for the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care reform.
According to the brief, the organizations argue that the minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is constitutional and advances equal opportunity for many of America’s disadvantaged.
In the Department of Health & Human Services v. Florida brief, the groups state, “In our modern, integrated and dynamic health care system, personal choices have consequences that extend far beyond the individual. The economic decision to forego health insurance, therefore, is not neutral; rather, such a decision, when aggregated across our national population, both limits the personal liberty of others to choose health insurance and has the effect of reinforcing harsh economic and social disparities that threaten our country’s democratic foundation and the cohesion of our society.”
LDF President and Director-Counsel John Payton agreed with Washington taking mandating citizen inclusion in the system. “Congress not only was well within its power to enact this important law, it was right to do so,” Payton said in a statement. “The severe racial inequality in our health care system threatens the ability of African-Americans to participate fully in the life of our nation and also undermines the health of our country’s democracy.”
In the brief, the groups mention that they believe that the inability to obtain access to health care limits the personal liberty of people to simply live healthy lives and that it is imperative that the government work to make the lives of the people they serve better.
The organizations also hope to remind the courts and the American people that the poor aren’t to blame for their situation and the results in the dice roll of life could have easily gone against their favor.
“Across our country, uninsured persons experience significant hardship that has a profound cumulative impact on our nation,” the brief states. “Because they are less likely to obtain adequate, stable health care, the uninsured suffer many lost opportunities, which depresses both the quality and the longevity of their lives. These burdens are disproportionately borne by racial and ethnic minorities, lower-income persons and other disadvantaged persons.
“For many individuals, being uninsured is not a choice but rather is a consequence that is imposed on them due to circumstances largely beyond their control.”