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Reactions to the Supreme Court healthcare law decision

By Patrick Ouellette

- Today’s Supreme Court 5-4 decision to uphold the majority President Obama’s health care overhaul law has unleashed strong healthcare industry reactions – both positive and negative. The two big topics were the “individual mandate policy” that was deemed constitutional because of relation to a tax and Medicaid expansion being upheld, but limited the power of the federal government to enforce it.

Here is the major coverage and reactions for what could be a game-changer of a decision in the healthcare field:

Chief Justice Roberts wrote this on the majority opinion in the New York Times:

“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain in­dividuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax,” Roberts said. “Be­cause the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”

Mitt Romney voiced the opinion of many Republicans as well:
“Obamacare was bad policy yesterday; it’s bad policy today,” said Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, in remarks before the Capitol building. “Obamacare was bad law yesterday; it’s bad law today.”

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Boston.com talked to these Massachusetts decision makers:

M.I.T. economics professor Jonathan Gruber, who was a key consultant for former governor Mitt Romney during the crafting of Massachusetts’ landmark 2006 health care law, said he is feeling relief in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. “I feel proud, but I think I feel more relieved because I don’t think we should have been in this situation in the first place,” Gruber said.

Senator Scott Brown, who has repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, sent this statement: “The federal health care law may be constitutional, but it is wrong for jobs and the economy. In Massachusetts, we had already dealt responsibly with the problem of our uninsured without raising taxes or cutting care to our seniors. All we got out of this massive new federal entitlement is higher taxes, cuts in Medicare and additional debt at a time when we can least afford it. The bottom line for me is this law makes it harder for our economy to add jobs and for that reason I continue to oppose it.”

James Roosevelt Jr., chief executive of Tufts Health Plan in Watertown, MA said the decision “provides certainty for insurers and businesses, and establishes the principle that we’re already comfortable with in Massachusetts: that of consumer protection and everyone paying their fair share.”

The Massachusetts Hospital Association emailed a statement saying the group applauds the decision: “Since 2006, Massachusetts has led the nation to implement groundbreaking healthcare reforms – first with a successful universal coverage law and then subsequent steps to increase transparency and enhance the quality and affordability of care provided to all. With these deep roots and a firm belief in the benefits of reform, Bay State hospitals have supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act since its inception for one simple reason – it is the right thing to do for Massachusetts and the nation.”

READ MORE: Industry Groups React to MACRA Participation Flexibilities

Andrew Dreyfus, chief executive of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts called the decision “an extraordinary moment.”

“There’s a sense of vindication today,” he told Globe reporter Robert Weisman. “To us, this validates all the work we did here in Massachusetts over decades to expand health care to all citizens. So now all Americans will have the same health care protection and benefits that Massachusetts citizens have had for years.”

Provider CIOs: Reform Confusion, then Needed Clarity: While things were a bit murky at first, what emerged from the Supreme Court was some much-needed clarity on how providers can move forward with accountable care initiatives and other efforts fueled by health reform, according to two hospital CIOs asked for their first impressions on the ruling.

Pennsylvania Independence Blue Cross reassures customers: “Our customers deserve and need secure and affordable health care coverage. On behalf of our 3.1 million members, we will continue to lead the way in transforming health care by partnering with doctors, nurses, hospitals, and others to help people stay well and better manage their care,” said Hilferty. “We will also continue to implement all aspects of the law while working with policymakers to fix provisions in the Affordable Care Act that could increase costs for our customers.”

Do you have an opinion on the decision? Comment and let us know what you think below.


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