Categorized | Health

Reaction to Supreme Court ruling on Affordable Care Act

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which proponents say will improve the country’s current health care system by increasing access to healthcare coverage for Americans and introducing new protections for people who have health insurance.

The ACA provides tools to increase the ability of most Americans to obtain health insurance. In Hawaii, 83,000 adults are uninsured. The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ACA ensures Hawaii’s families will get the healthcare security they deserve.

Republicans have vowed to try to repeal the entire law.

Reaction to the ruling

U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka:

“I am pleased the Supreme Court upheld the bill as constitutional. The Affordable Care Act may now fulfill its full promise to bring quality health care to millions more Americans, combat skyrocketing costs, and lower the burden of uninsured patients on our hospitals and doctors.

“The Affordable Care Act has already helped thousands of young adults in Hawaii stay on their parents’ plans, helped over 24,000 Hawaii seniors afford their prescription drugs, and helped over 100 Hawaii residents with pre-existing conditions get insurance coverage. Now that the Affordable Care Act is without question the law of the land, many more Hawaii residents will gain new coverage options over the next two years.

“I am proud that Hawaii is ahead of the curve as the first state to announce plans to develop a state-based health insurance exchange. Hawaii is again proving itself as a national leader in quality health care coverage, and today’s ruling clears the way for the Hawaii Health Connector to succeed.

“While some politicians will continue to attack this legislation, it is crucial that Congress focus on creating jobs, taking care of our veterans, improving education, defending our environment, and addressing the many other issues that are so important to our nation. We debated this landmark reform for over a year, and the courts have deliberated even longer. It’s time to move forward and tackle other urgent issues.

“As we discuss today’s news, we cannot forget about the minority populations in our nation that continue to face serious health disparities, including higher rates of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease and lack of access to culturally competent health care services. We must do all we can to ensure quality health care for all Americans, and today’s ruling is a big step in that direction.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie:

“Here in Hawaii, we already have our Prepaid Health Care Act, which enables a vast majority of our residents to be insured. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision supports President Obama’s initiative to make healthcare availability a national policy.

“In the days ahead you will continue to hear political discussion over health care plans. What is most important for Hawaii to know is that your State government will continue to support a healthcare system that ensures high quality, safety and sustainable costs. The Affordable Care Act is our ally in this effort.

“Since appointing my Healthcare Transformation Coordinator, Beth Giesting, my Administration has and continues to work in partnership with the private sector – consumers, providers and insurers – to make sure the State of Hawaii has that high quality healthcare system.”

U.S. Senate candidate Linda Lingle:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA) individual mandate as a valid exercise of Congress’ power to impose taxes, ultimately decides the question of the law’s constitutionality.

“I have always believed that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care, and if elected as the next U.S. Senator for Hawaii I will make health care a priority in the next Congress.

“This is not the end, but the beginning of what can and should be a healthy, productive and successful revamping of medical care access for the people of Hawaii and the nation. As Chief Justice Roberts noted in his majority opinion, ‘Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our nation’s elected leaders.’

“Beginning in January, the next Congress must address what the PPACA ignored, including important health care policy issues like the skyrocketing health care costs for the majority of Americans and small businesses, the quality of health care Americans receive, and the limited access to care for those in rural and remote areas. At the same time, questionable policy judgments in the PPACA such as the decision to create unelected Independent Review Boards, the punitive tax on medical device manufacturers, and the elimination of Medicare Advantage programs deserve meaningful bipartisan discussion.

“We need to seriously consider these issues if we are to truly meet the health care needs of our country, without pushing it further into debt.”

Former Congressman (D-HI ’02-’07) and U. S. Senate candidate Ed Case:

“The Supreme Court has ruled and the Affordable Care Act stands. Repeal is not a practical reality, so it’s time to put the political histrionics aside and work to implement the law in the best possible fashion for all Americans.

“On the national level, we also have unfinished business in assuring accessible, affordable and quality health care for all Americans. Preserving Medicare, controlling still-escalating costs and curbing excessive litigation are among the primary areas.

“For Hawaii, the ACA will not have the same impact as the rest of the country due to our decades-old Prepaid Health Care Act. But it still contains key provisions that, if implemented properly, can improve health care in Hawaii, especially the health insurance exchanges. And it does not address the growing crisis in provider availability and services, especially on the Neighbor Islands, driven largely by crushing Medicare paperwork and discriminatorily low Medicare reimbursements.

“Like so many other national challenges, the sooner we get beyond the gladiatorial circus and get down to work together, the sooner we’ll forge sustainable and workable solutions in national health care.

2nd District Congressional candidate Mufi Hannemann:

“Today’s ruling is a vindication of the efforts of President Obama and Congressional Democrats to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for individuals, families, seniors and small businesses. In Congress, I will work to ensure that the Affordable Care Act continues to be implemented in a responsible way that reduces costs, expands coverage, and enhances the health of Americans nationwide.”

President Barack Obama:

Good afternoon. Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — the name of the health care reform we passed two years ago. In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on Earth – no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.

I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost. That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington. But that discussion completely misses the point. Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.

And because this law has a direct impact on so many Americans, I want to take this opportunity to talk about exactly what it means for you.

First, if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable. Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive. They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions. They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick. They can no longer jack up your premiums without reason. They are required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms — a provision that’s already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance. And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses, and not enough on your health care.

There’s more. Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parent’s health care plans — a provision that’s already helped 6 million young Americans. And because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs — a discount that’s already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each.

All of this is happening because of the Affordable Care Act. These provisions provide common-sense protections for middle class families, and they enjoy broad popular support. And thanks to today’s decision, all of these benefits and protections will continue for Americans who already have health insurance.

Now, if you’re one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from. Each state will take the lead in designing their own menu of options, and if states can come up with even better ways of covering more people at the same quality and cost, this law allows them to do that, too. And I’ve asked Congress to help speed up that process, and give states this flexibility in year one.

Once states set up these health insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against any American with a preexisting health condition. They won’t be able to charge you more just because you’re a woman. They won’t be able to bill you into bankruptcy. If you’re sick, you’ll finally have the same chance to get quality, affordable health care as everyone else. And if you can’t afford the premiums, you’ll receive a credit that helps pay for it.

Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance. This is important for two reasons.

First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick, and show up at the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums.

And second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions, but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need — which would also drive up everybody else’s premiums.

That’s why, even though I knew it wouldn’t be politically popular, and resisted the idea when I ran for this office, we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so. In fact, this idea has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for President.

Still, I know the debate over this law has been divisive. I respect the very real concerns that millions of Americans have shared. And I know a lot of coverage through this health care debate has focused on what it means politically.

Well, it should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for the country. I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.

There’s a framed letter that hangs in my office right now. It was sent to me during the health care debate by a woman named Natoma Canfield. For years and years, Natoma did everything right. She bought health insurance. She paid her premiums on time. But 18 years ago, Natoma was diagnosed with cancer. And even though she’d been cancer-free for more than a decade, her insurance company kept jacking up her rates, year after year. And despite her desire to keep her coverage — despite her fears that she would get sick again — she had to surrender her health insurance, and was forced to hang her fortunes on chance.

I carried Natoma’s story with me every day of the fight to pass this law. It reminded me of all the Americans, all across the country, who have had to worry not only about getting sick, but about the cost of getting well.

Natoma is well today. And because of this law, there are other Americans — other sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers — who will not have to hang their fortunes on chance. These are the Americans for whom we passed this law.

The highest Court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law. And we’ll work together to improve on it where we can. But what we won’t do — what the country can’t afford to do — is refight the political battles of two years ago, or go back to the way things were.

With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward — to implement and, where necessary, improve on this law. And now is the time to keep our focus on the most urgent challenge of our time: putting people back to work, paying down our debt, and building an economy where people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.

But today, I’m as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we’ll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America.

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