Advocates praise most of health care ruling

Published 11:54 am Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Arc, an advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and its state affiliate, The Arc Minnesota, expressed support for the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upholding virtually all of the Affordable Care Act, saying the ruling reinforces the protections in the law for health care and supports for people of people with disabilities and their families.

“People with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been waiting for generations for the insurance reforms put in place by the Affordable Care Act,” said Marty Ford, director of Public Policy for The Arc. “Today’s ruling removes any doubts that the law Congress enacted should stand and will benefit millions of people with and without disabilities. It ends discriminatory insurance practices and makes health coverage more affordable and accessible — important protections that too many people with disabilities have been deprived of for too long.”

“This ruling is a victory for Minnesotans with disabilities and their families,” said Steve Larson, senior policy director for The Arc Minnesota. “Upholding the Affordable Care Act means many of the law’s provisions that benefit people with disabilities will either stay in place or move ahead. Children with pre-existing conditions can continue to receive coverage, and adults with those conditions will be covered in 2014. Families who have children with serious medical conditions will not have to worry about caps on their health care benefits. Minnesota adults with disabilities can still receive the coverage that Minnesota started last year that expanded Medical Assistance for low income adults.

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“The law contains lesser-known but important provisions that will improve the services and supports for people to live in the community, too,” Larson added. These include: The option for states like Minnesota to allow people with disabilities more control over the funding they receive for personal support staff.

There’s also added federal funding and support to states so they can move people with disabilities from institutions to places in the community.

More opportunities for training of health care providers (including dentists) on the needs of persons with developmental and other disabilities.

“These measures will only provide better care and support for people with disabilities and their families,” Larson stated. “They also reinforce the reforms that The Arc and The Arc Minnesota want to see in our system of disability services — reforms that create better lives at a better value for our public dollars.”

One element of the Supreme Court’s decision that concerns The Arc is the ruling that disallowed the federal government’s ability to withhold Medicaid dollars from states that don’t expand their Medicaid programs (or in Minnesota, Medical Assistance) to cover more of the uninsured. “This might mean that people with disabilities who would have benefitted from the expansion could be left behind,” Ford said. “Medicaid is an incredibly important lifeline for them, providing both health care and long-term services and supports.”

Jamey Helgeson is the Program Director at The Arc of Mower County and can be reached at or by calling 507-433-8994, Extension 102.  You can also visit our website ( and follow us on Facebook.