For Immediate Release
King v. Burwell: Nurses, Doctors and Working People Tell U.S. Supreme Court: Millions of Americans Counting on Tax Credits for More Affordable Healthcare Premiums
Healthcare Professionals, Joined by SEIU, File Amicus Brief Dismantling 'Carrot and Stick' Argument
WASHINGTON - A group of healthcare professionals and SEIU members submitted an amicus brief in King v. Burwell on Wednesday to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of working families throughout America. The case under consideration challenges the power of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to issue tax credits to millions of working Americans who enroll in private health insurance through the federal healthcare exchange. The tax credits have meant that millions of working women and men in approximately 36 states have gained affordable, quality healthcare under the law and can now see a doctor, afford lifesaving prescription drugs, and be free of the fear of medical bankruptcy.
"As a postpartum nurse, I know firsthand that the tax credits the law provides are important to ensuring the health of mothers and their babies," said Marilyn Ralat-Albernas, RN, of Miami. "We should be looking for ways to expand affordable access to good prenatal care, not putting this care at risk."
The healthcare professionals are members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), America's largest healthcare union, which joined them in filing the brief.
The "friend of the court" brief takes apart the so-called "carrot and stick" premise presented by the petitioners of the court by making it clear that Congress never intended to present a "carrot" to incentivize states, nor a "stick" to penalize Americans in states that did not create and run their own state exchanges. Furthermore, the brief shows this theory is simply a politically motivated fabrication, not supported by the text of the law, by its purpose, by its legislative history, or by the understanding of any state when making the choice whether to create and operate its own state exchange.
SEIU member Marcus Sandling, M.D, signed on to the amicus brief to tell the court the risks are too high for the patients he sees in his internal medicine residency in a New Jersey hospital. "When patients can actually afford health insurance, it makes it much easier for them to develop a real relationship with their doctor," Sandling said. "Patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes or hypertension become much more proactive about getting preventive care because they know they can afford to do it. In short, the law is working and as a physician, I'd hate to see these gains jeopardized by a court case."
According to healthcare experts, healthcare coverage for more than 8 million working people hangs in the balance in this case, as well as the risk that healthcare premiums would increase dramatically--by as much as 35 percent--for many more Americans.
The court will hear oral arguments in the case March 4 and SEIU nurses, doctors and healthcare workers will be there to share their stories of how the law is improving the health of their patients.
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said, "We are confident the law was written to improve the lives of all Americans, no matter where they live or where they work, and the court will not allow a political agenda to endanger the health of so many working people who are counting on the affordable healthcare the law delivers."
With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers—not just corporations and CEOs—benefit from today's global economy.