Sister Simone Campbell (photo right), executive director of Network, a national Catholic social services lobby and the leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” social welfare effort, holds a picture of Margaret Kessler, who died in 2012. Kessler lacked health insurance after she lost her job, Campbell said. The sister joined a rally supporting the Affordable Care Act outside the U.S. Supreme Court last month.
University of Alabama MSW student Justin Vest was among hundreds of people outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., in March, urging continued support of the Affordable Care Act.
NASW joined the Center for American Progress and Doctors for America coalition in inviting social workers and others to a rally in support of the ACA on the day justices heard oral arguments in the case, King v. Burwell.
Mel Wilson, Social Justice and Human Rights manager at NASW, said the case centers on a section of the ACA that deals with subsidies or tax credits that help low- and moderate-income residents afford monthly health insurance premiums.
If the plaintiffs win the case, the federal government will end ACA tax credits for residents in all of the states with federally facilitated marketplaces.
According to a number of national health care experts, the result would mean that as many as 8 million residents would be unable to pay for their health insurance, thereby becoming uninsured, Wilson said.
Vest, an NASW member who is completing his field placement at the Center for American Progress, where he works as a policy researcher on racial disparities, said he sees health care as a social justice issue.
“Not having access to affordable care leads to health disparities that disproportionately impact the poor and people of color,” he said. “I do not think the ACA is perfect, but it has done a great deal to benefit many people and is a step closer to universal coverage. A ruling against the ACA by the Supreme Court will only harm the more than 8 million people likely to lose coverage, leaving them without other viable options for getting the health care they need.”
Social workers (photo right) join the support rally for the Affordable Care Act outside the U.S. Supreme Court in March. From left: Justin Vest, University of Alabama MSW student; Dina Kastner, NASW senior field organizer; and Mel Wilson, NASW Social Justice and Human Rights manager.
At the rally, speakers shared their stories at the steps of the courthouse.
Among them was Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a national Catholic social services lobby. She is mostly known as the leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” social welfare effort that gained international fame in 2012, when a group of nuns began touring the country on a bus to put focus on social justice issues.
“Everyone is invited on the bus for health care for all,” Campbell said to a cheering crowd. “We the people stand for health care for all of our people. No one should be left out.”
Campbell also shared a personal story about why she supports the ACA. She held up a picture of Margaret Kessler, who died in 2012.
“In 2012, on our bus tour in Cincinnati, I met Margaret Kessler’s sisters,” Campbell said. “They brought me Margaret’s picture. She died before the Affordable Care Act was implemented. Margaret died because we didn’t have access to health care when she lost her job and couldn’t afford health care in the private market. Margaret died because we didn’t have a law that worked for all of our people.”
“For that reason,” she continued, “I have been a passionate advocate for the Affordable Care Act. My faith calls me to stand up for health care for all our people.”
At press time, the Supreme Court had not issued a ruling in the case. Experts predicted an announcement will likely take place by June.