Staff and wire report
Politics and policy talk dominated the airwaves Thursday. But the stories of people like Silver Springs residents Gary and Israel Gil-Schor were the ones that best reflect the import of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a key part of the Affordable Care Act.
Israel Gil-Schor works in sales for a small company whose employees get their health insurance through ACA exchanges. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation database, he is one of 17,000 Marion County residents who, to one degree or another, rely on what has come to be known as Obamacare.
“It’s not that big of a subsidy,” said Gary Gil-Schor, who is Israel’s husband. If the subsidy went away, the couple could still make it work financially.
But for many other people, taking the subsidy away “would have been really devastating,” Gary Gil-Schor said.
The Gil-Schors were thrilled with Thursday’s news from the high court.
“It’s exactly what we need,” Israel Gil-Schor said.
Though not perfect, the law has “been a really good thing,” Gary Gil-Schor said.
A universal, Medicare-style system for all would be ideal, but achieving that might be difficult within the current political and lobbying climate.
“This may be the best system that we can have at this point,” he said.
Here’s a sampling of some other reactions that trickled out Thursday from various local and state sources:
• “We are very pleased with the court’s ruling. As we have said before, we support efforts that improve access by providing affordable coverage for the uninsured.”
— HCA North Florida Division.
HCA owns Ocala Health, which includes Ocala Regional Medical Center, West Marion Community Hospital, plus related medical providers.
• “I am disappointed…I believe everyone should have some semblance of healthcare coverage, but Obamacare is not the right answer. Obamacare, which was rammed through Congress without any bipartisan dialog on how best to provide healthcare coverage for all Americans, is bad for patients, families, and our economy.
“It is a devastating law in terms of stifling innovation, creating barriers for job creation; it doesn’t address defensive medicine, and puts the government between you and your doctor. My focus remains steadfast; this law must be removed from the books.
“I will continue to support H.R. 2300 (the Empowering Patients First Act), the Republican alternative that repeals and replaces Obamacare with a patient-centered form of healthcare.
“Putting doctors and patients in charge of important healthcare decisions — not Washington DC — is my goal and my priority going forward.”
— U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville, whose district includes part of Marion County.
• “With today’s decision, 6 1/2 million Americans in 34 states, including 1.3 million Floridians, will be able to keep their health insurance. This is great news for our nation, especially for those who will continue to be able to receive quality medical care. In my state of Florida, the reality is clear: Obamacare is delivering on the dream of quality, affordable health coverage for Floridians. And I am hopeful that the Republicans in Florida’s state House of Representatives and Florida Governor Rick Scott will come to their senses and approve Medicaid expansion for our state! Doing so would benefit an additional 800,000 Floridians by making them eligible for insurance coverage.”
— U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, whose district includes part of Marion County.
• “It’s a really big relief,” said Lauren Vagelakos, an associate planner with the WellFlorida Council, which helps Marion County residents enroll in the ACA exchanges.
Since Florida had so many enrollees, it stood to lose the most if the high court had struck down the federal subsidies.
The legal issue “affects more than just people getting the insurance,” Vagelakos noted. Doctors, hospitals and other health care providers also awaited clarity on the subsidies.
• “The U.S. Supreme Court’s wise and compassionate ruling was a huge relief for the millions of Americans — some 2 million in Florida alone — who either could not get health care insurance or who stood to lose the subsidies that made it affordable. The court…has finally put to rest the partisan bickering that had no regard for the needs of hard-working Americans.
“It is now up to Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature to heed this decision by the highest court in the land, and ‘get to work’ to help 800,000 Floridians without health care insurance.
“The League urges all Floridians and organizations to call on the Legislature to get back to work as soon as possible and hold a special session.”
— Florida League of Women Voters
• “Today’s decision from the Supreme Court is a victory for the 1.3 million Floridians who receive financial help to pay for their coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. In fact, 93 percent of marketplace enrollees in Florida receive these tax credits, and the average tax credit in Florida is $294 per month. After finally being able to access quality, affordable health coverage, these consumers can now be certain that the promise of that coverage remains there for them and that they can get the care they need.”
— Nick Duran, Florida State director of Enroll America, which helps people enroll in exchanges.
• “I disagree with the Court’s ruling and believe they have once again erred in trying to correct the mistakes made by President Obama and Congress in forcing Obamacare on the American people.
“Despite the Court’s decision, ObamaCare is still a bad law that is having a negative impact on our country and on millions of Americans. I remain committed to repealing this bad law and replacing it with my consumer-centered plan that puts patients and families back in control of their health care decisions. We need Consumer Care, not ObamaCare.”
— U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
“Six years after ObamaCare was passed and the law continues to drive up healthcare costs and restrict access to care. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today will not change anything. Fortunately, Florida is moving in the right direction on its own by passing real, patient-centered healthcare reforms that expand choice and competition, and lower costs. AFP will continue to fight in Tallahassee for state-based reform while urging our members of Congress and President Obama to recognize that ObamaCare is the chief obstacle to better healthcare for all Americans.
— Chris Hudson, director, Americans for Prosperity — Florida
“I think the nation’s high court made the correct ruling. Clearly Congress intended for this law to help the uninsured gain access to affordable medical care and coverage. Hopefully, some of the extremists will now stop trying to dismantle the law and instead join us in trying to improve it where needed.”
— U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
• Investors in hospital stocks rejoiced after the Supreme Court ruling, which eliminated the prospect of a sudden influx of uninsured patients seeking care.
Shares in big hospital operators like HCA Holdings Inc. (which owns Ocala Regional Medical Center and West Marion Community Hospital) and Community Health Systems Inc. (which operates Munroe Regional Medical Center) jumped much higher than the broader market after the court upheld tax subsidies that play a key role in helping millions of Americans pay for health insurance.
When trading closed, HCA shares had risen 9 percent to $90.72, and CHS rose 13 percent to $62.45.
Investors were worried that many patients would drop their coverage if they no longer had tax credits to help pay for the insurance.
— The Associated Press
The Star-Banner did not hear back from U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent or from Munroe Regional.
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