Numerous local lawmakers and community activists reacted Thursday to the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010.
Many lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat, refer to the act as "Obamacare."
The PPACA mandates that individuals not covered by employer- or government-sponsored insurance plans to have minimal health insurance coverage and increases insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions.
The act also expands Medicaid eligibility to those up to 133% of Federal poverty level (FPL), requires states to establish health insurance exchanges for low-income people above the Medicaid level up to 400% of Federal poverty level (FPL), and prohibits insurance companies from charging co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles for preventative care for certain insurance plans.
For someone on Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, the plan currently covers up to $2700 per year but then stops until his or her drug costs exceed $6100 annually. The $3400 gap in coverage is known as the "doughnut hole." The PPACA will eliminate this gap by 2020.
One of the controversial provisions of the PPACA is the requirement that all new insurance plans cover certain preventative services without charging a deductible, co-pay, or coinsurance beginning August 1st. The services will include mammograms, colonoscopies, contraception, and domestic-violence screenings.
Many states filed actions in Federal court challenging the constitutionality of some or all of the elements of the PPACA.
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld all but one provision of the law, ruling that the individual mandate was a tax and, therefore, fell under Congress' taxing authority. The Federal government may now only withhold new Medicaid funding from states that do not comply with PPACA.
"We believe that, rather than big government bureaucracy and one-size-fits-all solutions, the free-market principles of choice and competition are the best tools at our disposal to increase access to health care and reduce costs," Governor Mary Fallin said Thursday. "I'm extremely disappointed and frustrated by the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Federal health care law. President Obama's health care policies will limit patients' health care choices, reduce the quality of health care in the United States, and will cost the state of Oklahoma more than a half-billion dollars in the process."
"Today's ruling by the Supreme Court to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unacceptable," said Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb on Thursday. "As Oklahoma's small business advocate, I have traveled the State and visited with countless business owners who voice opposition to this health care plan. Not only in Oklahoma, but also across the nation, citizens have made their opposition to this mandate known. Now more than ever, electing leaders who will repeal Obamacare is paramount."
"We are extremely disappointed in this decision, said State Chamber President Fred Morgan on Thursday. "This is exactly what we feared when we formed the Oklahomans for Free Market Health Solutions coalition last year to help support an Oklahoma-based solution to the Federal exchange mandate in the A-C-A. We now face a situation where a health insurance exchange crafted by bureaucrats in Washington, D-C, will now be forced upon Oklahomans. We cannot let this happen and must take swift action to create a private sector driven health insurance marketplace in order to avoid a federally mandated system."
"The Supreme Court's ruling is an extraordinary disappointment, but it provides the public with valuable information about Obamacare," said Oklahoma State Senator Dan Newberry. "Today's ruling lays bare the deception of the Obama administration in assuring the public that the Affordable Health Care Act was not a massive tax increase. This is an extraordinary fraud – if presented to the American people as the huge tax increase it really is, the proposal would have been overwhelmingly rejected."
"Passing health reform was the fiscally responsible thing to do, and suggesting otherwise is just dishonest," said Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins. "In addition, the Affordable Care Act lowers health care costs for millions of Americans through health insurance exchanges, caps on out-of-pocket payments, tax credits, and expands access to Medicaid. It is immoral for the Republican leadership to gamble with the lives of our citizens and now they should start helping restore Oklahoma."
"The Tulsa Metro Chamber has worked with policy makers and our regional partners to ensure our state has the flexibility to provide Oklahoma solutions to Oklahoma's health care challenges, Tulsa Metro Chamber Vice President of Communications LToya Knighten said Thursday. "Oklahoma has been on the cutting edge of addressing these challenges through hallmark programs like Insure Oklahoma, among others. We hope this decision provides that flexibility, and will allow state leaders to continue working for the best outcome for Oklahoma businesses and employees."
"While we know this is a huge victory in making certain all Oklahoma children and their families have access to affordable health care, we also understand the road ahead for implementation of the law in Oklahoma will be a wild and bumpy ride," said Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy Executive Director Linda Terrell. "It's our hope Oklahoma lawmakers will put politics aside and work in good faith with everyone at the table to implement the law in the spirit in which it was intended – to provide greater access to affordable health care for all."
Tulsa's Channel 8's Kim Jackson interviewed Dr. John Schumann of the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine on Thursday. Click the link "Is Oklahoma Ready For Healthcare Reform?" to the right to read her story and watch the interview.
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