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Supreme Court Upholds ACA

6-29-12 Feature Story:

The Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ensures that millions of Americans will gain access to health insurance and a range of unprecedented consumer protections and health benefits outlined in the law. It also affirms that community health centers will continue to be a cornerstone of efforts -- both in Massachusetts and across the country - to expand quality, cost-effective care to more Americans in need.

"We are extremely pleased with today's Supreme Court ruling," said James W. Hunt, Jr., president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. "In the past six years we have made great strides and stand ready to work with community health centers across the country to help them put in place the elements of reform that in our experience have demonstrated cost-savings, increased accessibility and better coordination of care."

Since Massachusetts health reform was launched in 2006 and federal health reform in 2010, the state's health centers have expanded their hours of operation, increased capacity to handle urgent health care needs, hired more doctors and nurses, upgraded technology and added more than 150,000 patients to their ranks.

The federal health care law provides $11 billion in funding for the operation, expansion and construction of community health centers across the country. This expansion of sites and services will support health centers as they work to double the number of patients they currently serve nationally -- from 20 million to 40 million -- by 2015.

"Community health centers are intended to be the foundation of a national strategy for expanding health access and reducing health costs," said Hunt. "In Massachusetts, we have seen the success of investing in community health centers. Today, not only do more than 98 percent of our state's residents have health coverage, but many of the formerly uninsured are receiving regular primary care for chronic illnesses that were previously treated through avoidable and expensive emergency room care."

Massachusetts health centers also lead the country in delivering quality care, scoring higher than the national average on every federal clinical performance goal. These outcomes can be tied to long-term investments from state government and, more recently, through federal stimulus and ACA funding.

"With today's ruling, many more of our country's uninsured will finally gain health coverage," said Hunt. "It also means that all of the nation's 1200 health centers will have access to needed resources for expanding their quality, cost-effective and patient-centered care to 20 million more medically underserved Americans."

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