The U.S. Supreme Court has voted 5-4 to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act federal health care reform law. This means the individual mandate survives. There are questions about how this decision will affect state Medicaid programs, including Georgia Medicaid. Today we will monitor the extensive reactions to this historic decision. This is the second of two files on the Foundation blog. Please see the earlier file for those reactions earlier today. Compiled by Mike Klein.
Interview with Cindy Zeldin, Executive Director, Georgians for a Healthy Future:
“It’s a big victory for Georgia health care consumers. We have big problems in our state. We have two million that don’t have health insurance. We have consumers don’t always have adequate protection in the health care market. We have poor access indicators, poor outcome indicators so this is really the biggest opportunity we’ve had in a generation. Now we finally have affirmation from the Supreme Court that this is constitutional.
“It sounds like (Governor Nathan Deal) has not made a decision yet on the one point of flexibility which is how he will handle the Medicaid expansion. From our perspective, it is really critically important that Georgia does implement the Medicaid expansion because there are so many federal dollars on the table and it really is a good deal for the state. That money to the health care providers, to our hospitals, to our doctors and that really can generate improvements in the economy as well as improvements in health care. The intent of the law is that everyone have a pathway for health insurance. We’ve got the new exchanges coming on line and for people to have access to that Medicaid program especially at the lowest income levels will be important.”
4:00pm — Governor Nathan Deal Update:
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said today he was surprised that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal health care reform law. The Governor said Georgia will not announce some health care policy decisions until after the November elections. Issues in play include whether to start any version of a health insurance exchange and whether to expand state Medicaid enrollment. Deal said it is possible the General Assembly will need a 2013 Special Session in addition to the regular session that starts in January. Deal held a State Capitol news conference this afternoon. We will have quotes from Governor Deal later today on this site.
4:10 pm — Statement from Georgia State Senator Charlie Bethel: “I am deeply troubled by the Supreme Court’s holding that the individual mandate is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause, but is permitted under the power to tax. It is a disturbing and intellectually frightening decision that brings dark clouds to those who value liberty and the principles of federalism. I fear for our future under a Congress that is barely limited in what it can regulate and unlimited in what it can tax (whether through direct taxation or not).
“In addition to supporting full repeal of the now piecemeal legislation, I hope Georgia’s congressional delegation will unanimously support congressional approval of the Interstate Healthcare Compact (to which Georgia is a party along with several sister states). The Compact would exempt participating states from the majority of federal regulations relating to healthcare and would allow them to manage federal allocations for healthcare as a block grant. Supporting this Compact honors the sovereignty of States and supports experimentation in search of efficiency in the provision of healthcare. This is preferable to a single centralized solution.”
The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to children and adults based on pre-existing conditions and from dropping health coverage when a person gets sick. It also eliminates annual caps on health coverage for devastating illnesses and allows young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.
The opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts- appointed by President George W. Bush- upholds every significant portion of the law.
Nearly 30 states, including Georgia, sued the federal government over this legislation. With the Supreme Court deciding in the Obama administration’s favor, it signifies a strong rebuke to Governor Nathan Deal’s persistent attempts to undermine health care reform.
“More than 2 million Georgians will now have access to health insurance and preventative care. We have struggled with these issues for decades and the Supreme Court got it absolutely right,” said Berlon.
The Foundation’s Criminal Justice Initiative pushed the problems to the forefront, proposed practical solutions, brought in leaders from other states to share examples, and created this nonpartisan opportunity. (At the signing of the 2012 Criminal Justice Reform bill.)