Thursday, December 22, 2011

In implementing ACA, vulnerable lives need to be protected

The following news release was issued yesterday, Dec. 21, 2011.

ST. PAUL — Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) supports efforts for Minnesota to create the health insurance exchange required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

"We firmly believe that an exchange created by our state, for our state, will be immensely better than one imposed on us by the federal government," said Scott Fischbach, MCCL Executive Director. "The time is now to get this work done."

The ACA allows states the flexibility to make determinations about the health insurance exchange required under the law, so it best fits the state’s needs as well as complies with federal law. To avoid being forced into the federally-administered exchange, Minnesota must prove by Jan. 1, 2013, that it will have an operational exchange by the Jan. 1, 2014, deadline.

Detailing part of the exchange requirements, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a bulletin on Dec. 16 providing guidance on establishing an essential benefit set for individual and small group plans. The guidance allows states to choose the essential benefit set from among the largest existing insurance plans in the state. By selecting one of the state-specific plans, Minnesota is afforded the opportunity to set the benchmark of essential health benefits for our state.

According to the ACA, maternity and newborn care must be included in any package of essential health benefits. By also excluding abortion coverage, Minnesota would move in a positive direction toward offering protections for the unborn that the ACA does not. Additionally, safeguarding against denial of care based on age, "quality of life" or degree of disability would protect Minnesota's elderly and disabled citizens from the threat of rationing.

When the ACA was passed in 2010, MCCL and other pro-life organizations opposed it because of its disregard of reasonable protections for our nation's most vulnerable citizens, including the unborn, the disabled and the elderly.

"Despite our opposition, the ACA has become law, and while we hope that it will be repealed or struck down, we believe it is vitally important to continue our efforts to protect our state's most vulnerable citizens, even under the confines of this deeply flawed law," Fischbach said. "By ensuring that no one is denied care because of age, disability or quality of life, we can work to build a health care system that doesn't discriminate against our state’s oldest and most vulnerable citizens."