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Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare; Saves Connecticut Millions

by Christine Stuart | Jun 28, 2012 11:29am
(4) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Courts, Health Care

Josalee Thrift file photo

A health care supporter with the Universal Health Care Foundation reaches the state Capitol last April after a rally for Connecticut’s version of the federal act

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding President Barack Obama’s health care reform act, dubbed ObamaCare by opponents, means all Americans will be mandated to purchase health insurance in 2014.

The decision will also help Connecticut’s state budget because it allows the federal government to continue contributing to the state’s Medicaid program.

Connecticut was the first state to participate in a provision of the Patient and Affordable Care Act, which allows it to receive a higher federal reimbursement for its Medicaid population.

In 2010, under then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to apply for and receive partial federal reimbursement for its low-income adults. Previously, the state had funded the program on its own, but now the federal government will be picking up the tab in 2014.

“The Court also recognized the constitutionality of the critical provision of a Medicaid expansion that will allow us to cover people up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level with 100-percent funding from the federal government in 2014,” State Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri, said. “Connecticut has a large, uninsured, low-income population. The Medicaid expansion is vital to the goal of covering the uninsured in our state.”

These Medicaid reforms will save the state hundreds of millions of dollars and likewise the Medicare reforms will save consumers $53 million in prescription drug costs, Veltri said.

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo said the decision “upholds decades of work to ensure that millions of uninsured Americans, including at least a half-a-million Connecticut residents, have access to health care.”

But he warned that this is only a starting point.

“The federal government –  and Connecticut –  must maintain momentum to reform and improve our health care system at every level,” Lembo said.

Connecticut, unlike other states, has embraced the Patient and Affordable Care Act and has been busy creating an Insurance Exchange, which is the portal through which all Connecticut residents will be asked to purchase insurance in 2014.

Last week, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Kevin Counihan as the first CEO of Connecticut’s Insurance Exchange, which is chaired by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. Counihan helped implement the nation’s first health care reform law in Massachusetts as its first chief executive officer as well.

“Now that the constitutional issues have been settled, Connecticut and the rest of the country can move full-steam ahead,“ Frances Padilla, executive vice president of Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, said in a statement.

Ellen Andrews, executive director of the Connecticut Health Policy Project, also praised the court’s decision.

“This ruling ensures that all of the provisions of the federal law that make health care more affordable and accessible, including assurances that young people can be insured by parents until 26, bans on refusal for pre-existing conditions and lifetime spending limits, and the individual mandate and $1.5 billion in annual subsidies to help families and individuals get affordable coverage through insurance or Medicaid, remain available to every American,” Andrews said. “With today’s ruling, it is time to set aside the debate over the constitutionality of federal health care reform, to roll up our sleeves and put these provisions into practice here.”

Advocates are expected to gather at the state Capitol around 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon to discuss what amounts to a victory for their cause.

Opponents of the legislation, including members of Connecticut’s Tea Party movement, are upset with the court’s decision. They will gather at 6:30 p.m. on the steps of Cheshire Town Hall.

The decision came as a surprise to opponents who were hoping the court would eliminate the individual mandate, but Chief Justice John Roberts caught them by surprise.

Roberts joined the court’s less-conservative wing in deciding that the law’s monetary linchpin — a mandate that everyone buy health insurance — is constitutional. Roberts agreed with critics that the Obama administration was wrong to justify that mandate on the basis of the Commerce Clause regulating interstate commerce. But he agreed with a secondary Obama administration argument: That the mandate can be considered a tax on people who don’t buy insurance, and that tax is constitutional.

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(4) Comments

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | June 28, 2012  12:11pm

GoatBoyPHD

It reads like a victory for the Red states.

THe Federal Government can’t require participation in ObamaCare. The Feds can use the fiscal carrot and stick as they have in the past. States can opt out much like many did when refusing Highway Funds rather than lower their DWI BAC laws to .08.

Will Obama tell a minimum wage worker in the Red States “sorry you owe $695 because your employers and the state do not offer ObamaCare subsidies”?

That will be the Romney pitch in the 33 states: “Now you have a new tax even if you don’t have the means to pay and get no benefit. Your taxes are there to pay for CT’s Health Care not your fellow Texans”.

The health care law doesn’t save CT millions. What it does is fund program expansion that CT has built into the budget.

posted by: Tim McKee | June 28, 2012  12:48pm

Romneycare and Obamacare are class warfare and failures, says Stein; calls for “real solution” of Medicare for All

singlepayer.pngIn the wake of this morning’s Supreme Court ruling maintaining the health insurance mandate, Dr. Jill Stein declared it, “time for all Americans to reject the failed Obama and Romney approach to the health crisis, and demand an improved Medicare for All system that provides health care to all at an affordable price.” Stein noted that “Obamacare is based on Romneycare, and as with so much else, Obama implemented a Republican scheme to impose mandates that are a regressive tax on working people. The Roberts Court make call it constitutional, but the mandate is still bad news for our suffering millions. Romneycare has meant that the working poor have seen a health cost increase ten times that of the wealthy.”

Dr. Stein is not only the presumptive Green Party presidential nominee, she is a Harvard-trained physician and a leading advocate for single-payer Medicare for All who twice ran against Romney in Massachusetts. “As a physician, I’ve seen Romneycare in action in my home state of Massachusetts. Forty percent of the people who need health coverage find that it’s still too expensive for them. And a quarter of the people who seek payments get denied by their private insurers.  It has failed to control costs, and as a result they are raising co-pays and attacking public employee health plans. It’s a fiscal and administrative nightmare which has gutted public services in Massachusetts. Schemes developed by health industry lobbyists to enrich themselves will never take care of our real needs.”

Dr. Stein made her position crystal clear, saying that, “We must implement a publicly administered non-profit system with no premiums, no deductibles, no co-pays and no co-insurance. This kind of system is proven. It is providing affordable health care all across the developed world, and providing better health outcomes. It’s the only fiscally sound approach to health care costs because it eliminates the inefficiencies of private insurance corporations, and provides effective cost controls. And it can’t reasonably be challenged on constitutional grounds.”

Yesterday, in advance of today’s ruling, five leading advocates for Medicare for All threw their personal support behind Dr. Stein’s Green Party campaign with a national letter whose individual signers included the newly elected president of Physicians for a National Health Program, Dr. Andy Coates. Mark Dunlea of Single Payer New York said, “When Obama slammed the door in the face of single-payer advocates, and even abandoned the “public option”, he forfeited any right to ask for support from those who are truly interested in solving our health care crisis. No genuine progressive will help him defend a Republican idea that will never work.”

Concluded Dr. Stein, “The real leadership on health reform is being shown at the state level where single-payer legislation is moving forward. As President, I would take these successes to the national level so that no longer in America are working and poor people denied their inalienable rights to lead healthy lives.”

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posted by: oliviahuxtable | June 28, 2012  3:11pm

Connecticut had been known for decades as a state with rich welfare benefits and so people flock here and become a burden on the taxpayers. People from states who do not offer subsidies for mandated health insurance will move to the states that do. But once here they also seek cash assistance benefits, food stamps, educating their children…..this decision today does Connecticut no favors.

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | June 28, 2012  3:44pm

GoatBoyPHD

The Red States are opting out of the Medicaid expansion to 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (which is the most expensive portion of the bill) and leaving the Insurance Exchange implementation and minimum policy definition (and subsidized policies) to the Federal Government. Michigan, INdiana, Iowa, Nevada, and New Jersey are looking at the Federal solution. There will be more on that this coming week.

Forbes makes a compelling case for states to reduce their matching coverage to 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (and doing the minimums) and throw the rest of the Medicaid expansion and Exchanges and Subsidies back to the Federal Government for implementation through a Federal Insurance Exchange.

http://tinyurl.com/7an5zyu

Given the politicized nature of CT’s Insurance Exchange Committee I’d prefer a quiet and competent and timely Federal implementation.The only positive move I’ve seen in CT is the hiring of an expert who implemented such a system earlier (In Massachusetts). That surprised me. Competence is so often underappreciated in government.

Of course the bet is that Romney will void the whole mess. If not then putting the onus for implementation and Medicaid expansion on the Federal Government seems like the back up plan


http://tinyurl.com/6rptxlz