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Senior Citizen Politics

Senior Advocates Want Supreme Court to Keep Obamacare Provisions for Seniors Out of Case

Six aging groups say Congress did not intend to tie senior benefits with individual insurance mandate being challenged in court

Jan. 31, 2012 – In an effort to protect provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) – sometimes called “Obamacare” – that are of "vital importance to the health and well-being of people 65 and older," six groups that serve senior citizens have filed a brief with the Supreme Court saying Congress never intended these provisions be tied with the “individual mandate” now being challenged in the Court as unconstitutional.

"The health and quality of life of many older Americans are already improving because of the health reform law," says National Senior Citizens Law Center Executive Director Paul Nathanson.


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"We don't believe Congress intended to let the elderly poor languish in nursing homes or be subject to abuse if the individual mandate was found unworkable."

Joining in the NSCLC in the amicus brief are AARP, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc., Medicare Rights Center, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and the National Council on Aging.

The amicus brief was filed in the National Federation of Independent Business et al v Kathleen Sebelius et al and the State of Florida et al v Department of Health and Human Services et al cases which challenge the constitutionality of the health reform law. In those cases, the petitioners contend that all of the ACA should fall if the minimum coverage provision is invalidated by the Court.

The brief states that a "careful review" of policies Congress sought to enact shows that the provisions affecting people aged 65 and over "can be effectuated without any reliance on the minimum coverage provision."

The brief also highlights the parts of the ACA that greatly benefit people aged 65 and older that should not be affected should the Court decide to invalidate the minimum coverage provision, including:

   ● Reduced cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries for prescription drugs by substantially reducing the coverage gap or so-called donut hole

   ● Elimination of cost-sharing for annual wellness visits and other screening services

   ● Medicare Advantage plans are prevented from charging higher cost-sharing for chemotherapy and dialysis than permitted under traditional Medicare

   ● Decreased unnecessary institutionalization of Medicaid beneficiaries

   ● Improved coordination of care for people receiving both Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligibles)

   ● Improved quality and safety in nursing homes and prevention of abuse and neglect of elderly and people with disabilities in nursing and other residential facilities.

The brief states that the only provisions that should be affected by the constitutionality of the minimum coverage provision are the pre-existing condition, the community rating and guaranteed issue provisions.

"The rest of the ACA, including, but in no way limited to the provisions highlighted in this amicus brief, should remain intact," the brief concludes.

To read the amicus brief, click here.

The National Senior Citizens Law Center reports it is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to protect the rights of low-income older adults. Through advocacy, litigation, and the education and counseling of local advocates, it seeks to ensure the health and economic security of those with limited income and resources, and access to the courts for all. For more information, visit


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