WASHINGTON, June 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the healthcare law drew praise Thursday from the AARP, two major unions and some patient advocate groups.
"The Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act is a victory for everyone who believes all Americans are entitled to affordable, quality healthcare," John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees union, said in a statement.
Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the law, Gage said, "It's time for Republican leaders in Congress to stop their campaign to repeal the law and to focus instead on improving the economy and creating jobs."
AARP said the law helps many Medicare recipients avoid increases in prescription drug costs by closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap, or "doughnut hole."
AARP said in a news release the law also increases the number of people eligible for free preventive care and wellness benefits while cracking down on Medicare fraud, waste and abuse. The organization said the healthcare law would play a role in ending discriminatory health insurance practices such as exclusions based on pre-existing conditions and limit use of age rating "to charge exorbitant premiums for older Americans."
"We look forward to the continued implementation of this critically important legislation so that millions of Americans can continue to receive the benefits it provides," A. Barry Rand, AARP's chief executive officer, said in the release.
National Health Council President Myrl Weinberg said the patient-advocacy group is "very pleased" with the Supreme Court decision.
"It is now time to put the acrimonious debate behind us and move forward to continue working through the implementation process to produce a healthcare delivery system that meets the needs of all people -- especially those individuals with chronic diseases and disabilities," Weinberg said.
NHC's core membership includes about 50 of the nation's patient-advocacy groups.
The United Steelworkers union, which represents about 850,000 members, applauded the high court's decision but noted opponents want to repeal the law.
"While we celebrate this ruling and applaud the court for standing up for justice and fairness in this nation's healthcare system, we know that this is just the beginning," USW International President Leo W. Gerard said in a news release. "Republicans like Mitt Romney, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell want to take us back to a place where people can be denied coverage because they've been sick, where tens of millions of Americans have no access to healthcare and where our elderly citizens have to decide between putting food on the table and buying their medicine.
"Let me tell you: We are not going back," Gerard said. "Under President Obama's leadership, we have made too much progress to turn back the clock, and too many Americans stand to lose if this law is overturned. This country deserves a system that works for everyone, not just the healthy and the wealthy."
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