Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling to uphold most of the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform measure commonly called ObamaCare, resulted in mixed reactions.
Among Alaska’s Congressional Delegation, the reaction split along party lines. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Republican Rep. Don Young continue to express concern about the act, but Democratic Sen. Mark Begich lauded Thursday’s decision.
Locally, Nancy Tietje of Davies Barry Insurance said the ruling went as she expected.
“Personally, I was not surprised,” she said. “It followed the way that I thought that the Supreme Court would rule. I always thought that the Medicaid portion was the problem area. I didn’t think that the mandate was the big issue.”
Tietje said the act’s expansion of Medicaid rules was struck down, which means states won’t have to offer coverage beyond what they offer now. She said the court determined that the question of severability – whether the bill would fall apart if one section were removed –was not an issue.
Other debated issues related to the mandate.
“There were four questions in the Supreme Court bill,” she said. “One was the individual mandate and the question on whether or not the tax or the penalty that would go if you didn’t buy insurance, what that was. So they decided it was a tax, so it was something that has to now follow the tax law.”
Tietje said the ruling is big news in her industry.
“My email was full this morning,” she said, laughing. “I’ve got the bill; I’ve got the Supreme Court ruling. I’m not going to read the whole thing.”
But she will be delving into it through web teleconferences run by experts in the field. She said all insurance agents will continue to study the law, adjusting as needed.
“But we’ve all been operating all along that the Supreme Court wasn’t going to overturn it,” she said.
Tietje added that Thursday’s court ruling means the act is back in the hands of politicians.
“Right now, it’s probably going to go political now,” she said. “And it will be a firestorm of political action.”
Ketchikan Medical Center also responded to the decision. A hospital news release noted that while there are mixed feelings about the measure, “The Supreme Court’s decision allows us all to move forward on the path to reform.”
PeaceHealth, which runs the city-owned hospital, stated that it supports reform based on a “longstanding conviction that all Americans should have access to basic health services and health insurance.”