The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has the potential to significantly reduce the number of uninsured Latinos in the United States, and NCLR has worked to ensure that the benefits of the law reach as many eligible individuals as possible. As an organization that represents the most uninsured community in the country, NCLR has long advocated for quality, affordable, and accessible health insurance and care for all Americans. It is why we became deeply involved in the fight to enact the Affordable Care Act. While it is not perfect, it is the first meaningful effort in nearly 50 years to address the long-standing national health care gap and at long last bring quality health care to millions of families in the U.S., including Latinos.
Earlier this week, we continued that fight when we joined numerous organizations on the steps of the Supreme Court to affirm our support for the ACA as the Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell. The case challenges a core component of the ACA, endangering the financial assistance that the law provides for millions of low- and middle-income Americans who live in states that did not set up their own health insurance marketplaces.
The outcome of King v. Burwell is critical. According to a widely referenced report by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, about 9.3 million people in 34 federally facilitated marketplace states are at risk of losing premium tax credits if the Court rules in favor of King. About 8.2 million people are projected to become uninsured. Such a decision by the Supreme Court would be a step backward for all Americans, including Latinos, stripping away the gains we have made in providing quality, affordable coverage to so many hardworking families.
What does this mean for Latinos?
Outside the Supreme Court, NCLR talked with a number of news outlets. One key question we fielded was, “What’s at stake for the Latino community?” According to a follow-up report by the Urban Institute, of the 9.3 million people who would lose tax credits if the Court ruled in favor of King, about 1.5 million are Hispanic and about 1.2 million would become uninsured as a result.
Given that Latinos are less likely than other workers to have access to employer-sponsored health insurance—only 38.3 percent of Latinos are covered by employer-based plans—the coverage options offered by the ACA are critical to filling that gap. During the first two open enrollment periods, NCLR and its Affiliate Network, along with other key partners, worked to enroll Latinos across the country. There is still work to be done, but there is no question that these collective efforts have increased the number of insured Latinos.
While the country awaits the Supreme Court’s decision in June, remember that nothing has changed. Tax credits remain intact and coverage purchased via the marketplace remains valid. It’s important for individuals to continue paying their premiums. As a community that has long strived for meaningful coverage opportunities, Latinos, like so many Americans, have much to gain from the ACA. Our community can ill afford—literally and figuratively—attempts to thwart those opportunities.