(Chicago, IL, March 15, 2012) - Today Lambda Legal released a list of 130 HIV and health care advocacy and direct service organizations who have endorsed Lambda Legal's friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act. The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in several cases challenging the constitutionality of the law the week of March 26, 2012.
"The list of supporters for our brief urging the Court to uphold the ACA continues to grow because of the law's enormous potential to impact the domestic AIDS epidemic," said Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director for Lambda Legal. "By signing on to the statement of support, organizations across the nation have affirmed the demonstrable effect the ACA will have on reducing rates of transmission and increasing prevention education, early detection, and access to quality care for everyone living with HIV."
In January, Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief highlighting the crucial link between the ACA and the ability to curtail the domestic AIDS epidemic. The brief supports the federal government's position that the ACA's minimum coverage requirement (also known as the individual mandate) is constitutional under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. In March of 2010, the ACA was signed into law, reforming aspects of the private health insurance industry and expanding access to health insurance for millions of Americans. The constitutionality of the law was immediately challenged in federal court in multiple jurisdictions; the United States Supreme Court will rule on the appeals in these cases this term and has scheduled oral arguments for the week of March 26, 2012.
The list of organizations includes AIDS Interfaith Network, National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors, National Black Women's HIV/AIDS Network, Queer People's Health Collective and Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Coalition. They join Lambda Legal in supporting the federal government's position that the ACA's minimum coverage requirement is constitutional.
When the ACA was enacted, only 17% of Americans with HIV had private health insurance. In the individual insurance market, people living with HIV are generally considered "uninsurable" and are routinely rejected when they apply for coverage because they have a pre-existing condition. Even when these individuals find an insurance company to cover them, most states have no rating limits, allowing insurers to charge prohibitively expensive premiums. The ACA is designed to address this problem by eliminating pre-existing condition exclusions and requiring that everyone acquire health insurance. The impact of such reform has already been demonstrated on a state-wide level. In Massachusetts between 2005 and 2008, after similar health care reform was implemented, the state had a 37% decrease in HIV infections while the nation had an 8% increase.
Lambda Legal's HIV Project Director, Scott Schoettes, and Director of Constitutional Litigation, Susan Sommer, are joined as counsel on the brief by Ropes & Gray LLP attorneys Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, Bradley Grossman, Brendon Carrington, and Jacob Heller.
The following organizations are listed as signatories in the amicus brief filed at the U.S. Supreme Court: AIDS United, Asian and Pacific-Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS (APICHA), Black AIDS Institute, Center for HIV Law and Policy, Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA), Latino Commission on AIDS, National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA), National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), National Native American AIDS Prevention Center (NNAAPC), U.S. Positive Women’s Network/WORLD, and Treatment Access Expansion Project (TAEP).