The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding most of the Affordable Care Act may not sway Congress or public opinion on the law, but it did have several child advocacy groups sighing relief Thursday.

“Today’s ruling is a significant win for kids,” gushed the group First Focus.

The decision kept in place the law’s linchpin, the individual mandate, which requires Americans to obtain health insurance or face a penalty. Because of that, several other provisions remain, including those most likely to affect children.


“I think upholding the mandate is important because we can get more children and more families insured,” Robert Block, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics said after the decision was announced.

The ruling also keeps in place provisions for lower-income families, such as the continued financing of the Children’s Health Insurance Program that covers children whose families fall into the income gap between Medicaid eligibility and being able to afford private insurance.

The court also supported the federal government’s ability to expand state-run Medicaid, but it held that the government cannot force states to expand coverage by withholding funds if a state opts out of the expansion.

This was “of concern” Block said because it would create more disparity for children in low-income families in different states.

Still, the law’s possible gutting was avoided.

“Overall, we’re looking at this as a win,” Block said. “We’ll, of course, have another look at this thing through the election.”

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Republicans in Congress have said they would try to repeal the measure.

“We have a long way to go before all children in this country are insured, but we see this as a confirmation that we’re heading in the right direction,” Block said.

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