Health care decision receives mixed reactions in Yuba-Sutter
Read more about the Supreme Court ruling here.
The Supreme Court decision upholding much of President Obama's health care reform bill drew a variety of responses in Yuba-Sutter, some of them su prising.
For Fremont-Rideout Health Group, the most positive aspect may be clarity on how to move forward, said group Chief Executive Officer Terri Hamilton.
"Today's decision by the court lifts a very heavy burden on millions of Americans and hospitals like ours that serve them," she said on Thursday, citing uncertainty beforehand on how the court would rule.
The ruling also helps the hospital advance in the same transformation taking place across much of the health-care system, from one based on volume of service to one based on value of service, she said.
Several million state residents are uninsured, she said, but it will take time before the cost of treating uninsured patients — who often use more expensive emergency room treatments — comes down as the law requires everyone to buy insurance.
One reason for that, Hamilton said, is the lag in the law between providing incentives for more people to get training as doctors and nurses and them completing the training and getting into hospitals.
The ruling also pleased Ampla Health Chief Executive Officer Ben Flores, who said community health centers like his are poised to offer more services under the law.
"That is the most important thing," said Flores, whose not-for-profit health care group is based in Yuba City and has clinics in Gridley and Olivehurst. "If this had been overturned, there would be 32 million uninsured in the US who would not have the opportunity to get this care."
If everyone has insurance, he said, more of them will use community health centers like Ampla, and thereby take advantage of more preventive services, which should reduce costs, he said.
"We support the concept and believe that health care is a right, not a benefit or privilege," he said, adding since the law was approved two years ago, his group has already been able to expand its offerings.
Among local representatives in Congress, reaction fell along party lines.
Rep. Wally Herger, R-Chico, said in a statement the law's costs, and characterization by a court majority as containing constitutionally permissible tax penalties, make it bad law under any definition.
"House Republicans believe the solution to our health care challenges lies in putting patients in control instead of insurance companies or government bureaucrats, and I remain committed to fully repealing this bad law and replacing it with reforms that reduce costs and make health care more affordable without expanding the size of government," Herger said.
But Rep. John Garamendi, whose new congressional district includes Yuba-Sutter, said in a statement he would point to the bill's many positive features, such as ending denial of treatment for pre-existing conditions.
"While I hope to eventually see Medicare for all in America, the Affordable Care Act is a vast improvement over the dark days when we allowed the insurance companies to run roughshod over our health," said Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove.
In California, Assemblyman Dan Logue said the potential cost to the state for implementing the law might prompt action at the ballot box.
Because the ruling allows states to opt out of the law, Logue said, California could find itself bankrupted if it continues implementation while businesses flee elsewhere.
"It would be an economic meltdown," said Logue, R-Loma Rica. He said he is exploring the possibility of a state ballot initiative to stop implementation, and he might push for a special election next year to get it before voters, citing the high price tag of federal health care reform for the state.
While opposition to what has been dubbed Obamacare is a central belief for many members of the tea party political movement, Sutter Buttes Tea Party Patriots secretary Carla Virga said she saw an upside in the ruling.
"For too long, people have been apathetic about government expansion, and this will wake many of them up," she said, adding those galvanized voters are more likely to elect candidates this fall, including for president, who'll repeal the law as a result.
"Democrats have been saying, 'They're going to take away your health care,'" she said. "This takes away their ammunition. It's like the old adage, 'Be careful what you wish for.'"