Last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act and its individual mandate continues to be lauded and prodded by politicians, federally and locally.
The Supreme Court on Thursday voted 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts casting the tie-breaking vote, to uphold President Barack Obama’s controversial healthcare reform bill.
Some Republicans have vowed to repeal the law, including Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. However, the decision was celebrated by many Democrats, who feel that the regulations are long overdue.
“I think it’s very good news because so many Californians struggle maintaining health insurance,” Congressman Adam Schiff (D-California) said, applauding the bill’s efforts to allow children to remain on their parent’s healthcare plans and offer seniors better access to prescription drugs. “And it will help millions who have no coverage at all.”
Schiff referenced the act’s state partnership model, which provides funding and support for states to create their own Affordable Insur-ance Exchanges, or health insurance marketplaces. He said the exchanges will allow small businesses to pool their purchasing power, which will create “downward pressure” on costs.
While some Republicans have denounced the bill, saying it will drive up the cost of healthcare, Schiff said the industry’s status quo was unsustainable. He said the legislation will slow healthcare cost increases.
“We’re going to have to do more,” Schiff added.
He said he supported the “public option”, a government insurance program like Medicare that was cut from the bill. Without it, the act does not have enough cost controls, Schiff said.
“That would have been the most important cost containment mechanism,” he said.
Republicans, such as Romney, have also stated that the Affordable Care Act is a “job killer.” Schiff said escalating healthcare costs were a “job killer,” especially for small businesses that struggled to provide insurance to their employees.
However, the bill is not “perfect by any means,” Schiff said. He said legislators will need to continue to improve it, but he also reiterated Obama’s statement that the county can’t afford to keep fighting political battles regarding healthcare, nor can it start anew.
“There is certainly merit to picking a course, following it and improving it as you go along,” the Congressman said.
Schiff, who was active in promoting the bill, said he has heard some local opposition, though his office is continuing to get feedback. He said many residents, especially those with pre-existing conditions, see reform as the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I think, certainly, the strong majority of my constituents feel this is a step in the right direction,” Schiff said, highlighting the importance of the reform bill to sick children and their parents. “I think we are moving toward universal coverage, which is extremely positive and important.”
Additionally, the Congressman said his respect for the Judiciary has increased, as the U.S. Supreme Court did not vote partisan in last week’s ruling. He praised Roberts for showing a lot of courage.
“That’s the way it should be,” Schiff said. “I think it was also very important to the reputation of the court.”
During a press call on Friday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the law has already had a large impact on the country. She said more than 5.2 million seniors have saved $600 each on their prescription medications, and 3.1 million Americans can start careers with health coverage through their parents.
Approximately 100 million individuals with Medicare and private insurance are now getting preventative services at no charge as well, Sebelius said.
“That’s really great news for American families,” she said. “We’ve finally begun to hold insurance companies accountable, ending some of their worst abuses.”
Sebelius said the bill’s protections are critical to the country’s economic stability. The Health and Human Services Secretary referenced the reform bill’s establishment of marketplaces, which gives consumers and states more control over insurance choices.
Thirty-four states have taken steps to open the exchanges in 2014, Sebelius said.
“We’re going to be working with states every step along the way,” she added.
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