Government

Officeholders React to Ruling on Affordable Care Act

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The two U.S. senators from Ohio and the two representatives whose districts cover the Mahoning Valley held their parties’ positions following today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on King v. Burwell.

The 6-3 ruling upholds the health insurance subsidies to the federally run marketplaces established in 38 states, including Ohio, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The opinion, delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts, acknowledged the strength of the petitioners’ “plain-meaning arguments,” but stated that the “context and structure [of the act] compel the conclusion” that the tax credits are allowed “for insurance purchased on any [e]xchange created” though the act. The credits are “necessary” for the federal exchanges to function like the state exchanges “and to avoid the type of calamitous result that Congress clearly meant to avoid,” he continued.

Roberts was joined by Associate Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.

“As the dust has settled there can be no doubt that the law is working,” President Barack Obama said later this morning in the Rose Garden at the White house. “It has changed and in some cases saved American lives. It set this country on a stronger, smarter course.”

Had the “partisan challenge” to the law succeeded, millions of Americans would have thousands of dollars in tax credits taken from them, insurance would have become unaffordable for many, many would have lost insurance again and premiums would have risen, he continued.

“This is not an abstract thing anymore. This isn’t a set of political talking points. This is reality,” he said. “We can see how it is working. This law is working exactly as it’s supposed to. In many ways, this law is working better than we expected it to.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, applauded the Supreme Court’s decision, which he said means 161,000 Ohioans and 6.4 million Americans can keep their health-care coverage, and he pledged to continue to work to expand the law.

“It is clear that the Affordable Care Act ensures that everyone in the United States has the right to access affordable, quality health-care coverage – regardless of who they are or where they live,” Ryan said in a statement issued by his office.

“The Supreme Court reaffirmed what the health law is all about: helping hardworking families purchase affordable health insurance,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio

“The health law helps Ohio families with incomes between $23,850 and $95,400 — who do not have access to affordable coverage through an employer and are not eligible for programs like Medicaid or Medicare — access preventive health care instead of costly emergency room visit,” he continued in an email sent by his office. “When more Ohioans have health insurance, everyone enjoys a more competitive marketplace, more choice, and lower prices.”

Ohio’s junior U.S. senator, Portman, called the legislation “poorly drafted” but said now that the high court has made its position clear he would continue to seek a long-term solution “to help all those Ohio families who have lost their health care and seen costs rise due to” the law’s “many broken promises,” as he put it.

“Ohioans deserve a health-care system that gets rid of Obamacare mandates and replaces them with patient-centered, accessible, and affordable health care,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, expressed his disappointment with the ruling, which he said “denied Congress an important opportunity to fix this fundamentally broken law. …

“Few laws have expanded government’s role in our everyday lives like the disastrous Affordable Care Act,” he said in his press release. “Moving forward, I will continue working to make health care truly affordable for all Americans, including the many Ohioans I have personally heard from who have been kicked off their plans, lost their doctor, and experienced massive rate increases.

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-3 Pa., called for the law’s repeal in his statement of reaction to the decision.

“The Affordable Care Act has proved to be unaffordable for millions of Americans, including thousands in western Pennsylvania. It is forcing premiums and deductibles to rise and quality of medical care and innovation to drop. It is hurting our economy and stifling job creation,” he asserted. “Without willful deception by the executive branch, this law would likely have never been passed in the first place.”

The ruling earned praise from Consumer Reports magazine.

“This is a huge victory for consumers across the country. Millions of Americans who were finally able to access and afford health insurance now have some peace of mind. They know the coverage they depend on to get the care they need and deserve is secure – regardless of where they live,” said Marta Tellado, president and CEO.

“The time has come to forge ahead to make the nation’s health system even stronger by focusing efforts on issues like improving affordability, transparency and value,” Tellado continued. “These are the issues that are most important to consumers, and they are the issues that Consumer Reports will continue to address.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, declared the ruling a “victory for working families. The AFT is the second-largest nurses union in the country and represents 120,000 health-care workers.

“Today, just like in 2012, when it comes to health care, the Supreme Court gets it right,” she said. “Ask the nurse who sees patients every day who are getting healthy, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Ask the adjunct professor or the school support-staff worker who now have coverage, thanks to the law. The Affordable Care Act is working.”

Dr. Alice Chen, executive director of Doctors for America, praised the ruling and called on Congress to stop its attacks on the law.

“It is time for Americans across the political spectrum to embrace the idea that health care should be a right in the wealthiest country in the world,” she said. “We cannot go back to the days when people with pre-existing conditions — the very people who need health care the most — were denied coverage. We cannot go back to the days when more and more families lost their coverage and had to choose between paying for groceries and going to the hospital.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.