Press Release from the Tennessee Health Care Campaign & Tennessee Justice Center, March 7, 2011:
The personal responsibility provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, not state legislatures
Nashville, TN – On March 7th, the Tennessee House of Representatives will take a vote on the “Tennessee Health Care Freedom Act”, a bill that essentially codifies objection to a single provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Beth Uselton, Executive Director of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, a non-partisan patient advocacy organization, says that this legislation is a distraction from the larger problems in our health care system. “This bill which seeks to reject aspects of the new health care law does nothing to help solve the problems it addresses. We still have hundreds of thousands of neighbors who lack affordable access to health care or have been denied coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will address both of these problems by banning pre-existing condition exclusions and providing tax credits to help people afford coverage. Attempting to pass state laws that reject provisions of the federal law are a distraction from the real problems Tennessee families are facing.”
Chris Coleman, an attorney with the Tennessee Justice Center, a non-profit public interest law firm explains that the state law would have no real effect on implementation of the Affordable Care Act. “Under the U.S. Constitution, laws passed by the U.S. Congress are the supreme law of the land, notwithstanding anything in the constitution or laws of any state. This means that the Affordable Care Act, much to the dismay of its critics, is the supreme law of the United States and preempts any contrary state law. If the legislature believes the ACA is unconstitutional, then it may try to convince the Attorney General to join one the several lawsuits challenging the ACA. What it cannot do is nullify a duly enacted federal law in Tennessee. As a legal matter, this is not even close.”
Uselton believes that the Affordable Care Act, not partisan politics, will ultimately prevail. “Those who seek to block implementation of the law or delay its benefits are playing politics with the lives and livelihoods of their own citizens. The new health care law is working for families across Tennessee who now have the peace of mind that their children can no longer be denied care or coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Patients with chronic conditions no longer have to worry that they will exhaust the coverage they’ve paid for or be dropped from their insurance because they got sick. In a new health care system where everyone participates and takes responsibility for their own health care, we can actually reduce costs, expand coverage and improve the quality of care. But we have to get past political posturing and start working together to implement real solutions to the problems facing Tennessee families.”