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Reaction mixed after Supreme Court upholds subsidies in Affordable Care Act

From Illinois Business Journal news services

The Illinois Hospital Association and medical groups around the country applauded the decision today by the U.S. Supreme Court  upholding the legality of subsidies for hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans and millions of Americans that have enabled them to obtain health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the Affordable Care Act in King v. Burwell.

The subsidies have enabled more than 230,000 low- and moderate-income Illinoisans to afford health insurance, ensuring that they have access to health care, said Maryjane A. Wurth, president and CEO of the Illinois Hospital Association.

Illinoisans now receive more than $49 million a month in subsidies (nearly $600 million on an annualized basis).

“The subsidies also help stabilize the overall cost of health insurance premiums in the state so that even those who do not currently receive subsidies have affordable premiums in the individual health insurance market. With health insurance, patients are able to seek care for serious health conditions at the right time in the right setting, leading to better health outcomes and lower costs for the health care system,” Wurth said in a statement.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate Whip, issued a short statement in which he left no doubt his support of the law.

“Memo to the non-stop critics of the Affordable Care Act: Stop trying to kill this program and work to make it stronger,” Durbin said. “The Supreme Court’s decision protects the health insurance of 240,000 Illinoisans and 6.5 million Americans nationwide. America will not return to the days when millions were uninsured and the cost of health care was out of control. The Supreme Court’s decision is the right one for America’s economic future, and for families and businesses in Illinois and across the country.”

Some critics, though, say there is room for improvement in the law.

David French, the National Retail Federation’s senior vice president for government relations, says the legislative branch now has some responsibility.

“Now that the court has spoken, it is imperative that Congress seize the opportunity and address the most egregious errors in this poorly constructed law to ease unreasonable compliance burdens and reduce the cost of coverage for employers and employees alike,” he said in a statement.

“Questions about the effectiveness of the Affordable Care Act persist five years after its enactment. The ACA’s impractical and unworkable regulations and requirements continue to cast a shadow on employer-sponsored health coverage.

“It’s time to repeal the employer mandate, reform or eliminate onerous reporting requirements and restore the traditional 40-hour workweek as the standard for eligibility,” French’s statement said.

Provisions that add to the cost of health care coverage such as the “Cadillac Tax” and the too-extensive “essential” health benefit mandates should also be repealed, French said.

“The Supreme Court decision should provide the pressure needed to thaw out congressional intransigence over health care and pave the way for both parties, Congress and the administration to work together to reform the ACA to make it more practical and reasonable. The nation’s business community will not stand by as partisan bickering trumps prudent changes,” French said.

The National Association for the Self-Employed, an advocate and resource for self-employed and micro-businesses, hailed the decision, calling it a “clear win for millions of Americans who now have access to health care, including those who consider themselves part of our country’s small-business community.”

“At a time when affordable health care premiums continue to be a major concern for small business owners, today’s ruling comes as a relief to the millions of mom-and-pop business owners across the country who are complying with the individual mandate requirement, but happen to live in a state who declined to establish a state-based exchanges,” said Katie Vlietstra, NASE’s vice president for Government Relations and Public Affairs. “Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court validates the clear intent of Congress, which was to ensure premium assistance was made available to all Americans, regardless of where they purchased their health care.”

Further, she saiid: “It’s our hope that after today’s decision, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle move forward and get to work to address the problems that still exist with the new health care law. From providing the self-employed with increased affordability through enhanced coverage tiers, to misinterpretation of the applicability of the use of health reimbursement accounts and the calculation of premium assistance, there is still a lot of work left undone.”

Rep. Mike Bost, who represents Illinois’ 12th Congressional District, said he is thinking ahead the next step.

“I disagreed with the court’s original decision upholding the individual mandate in Obamacare, and I disagree with them now,” said the Murphysboro Republican. “However, I am committed to working with my colleagues to find a plan that replaces Obamacare with solutions that expand access to care, makes it more affordable for hardworking families, and gets government bureaucrats out from between patients and their doctors.”

Another Southwestern Illinois congressman, Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, had a similar view.

“Today’s decision doesn’t change the fact that health-care premiums continue to rise for millions of Americans, costs continue to skyrocket, and businesses remain reluctant to grow under Obamacare,” said Davis. “This decision just means we will need to fight harder for the American people to make commonsense changes to this burdensome law. I will continue to push for reforms like my Hire More Heroes Act, to encourage the hiring of more veterans, and other patient-centered reforms that lower overall costs and increase coverage without limiting choices.”


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