Affordable Care Act Decision Sparks Variety of Responses

An SIU Law Professor says today's Supreme Court ruling will stir up both sides of the healthcare debate again.

Professor William Schroeder says the decision, which upholds the so-called "individual mandate" that most Americans must buy health insurance, points out what many people miss when it comes to the U.S. Constitution:  "It doesn't mandate everything that's good, and it doesn't bar everything that's bad. So really, what the court said is that this is a political decision." As a result, Schroeder says the ruling is not the final word on the issue, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill will likely revisit the issue this summer.  He says it will likely be a key factor in the presidential campaign: "In a sense, this is something for the political process to resolve. Obviously, it's going to be fought out in this election, and we'll see what happens." Schroeder says when you take this decision and look at others announced earlier this week, the Justices have expanded the reach of the federal government while weakening the powers of the states to regulate their own issues.

Southern Illinois Congressman John Shimkus says Thursday's Supreme Court ruling will spur action in Washington, and stir things up in this year's elections as well. The Collinsville Republican expects the House to move forward with plans to do away with the Affordable Care Act soon after the 4th of July recess: "We will vote to repeal the healthcare law. Then we throw that into the Senate Chamber for their action, and I'm not sure what they'll do." It's likely that any move to repeal the law will stall in the Democrat-controlled Senate, but Shimkus says he thinks the debate should at least go forward. Shimkus says the decision is ultimately being handed back to the voters, who will hear a lot more about the issue from the presidential candidates and make their decision in the November election.

Jim Duffett of the Champaign-based Campaign for Better Health Care says the supreme court decision is good news for Illinois' small businesses. Duffett says other benefits of the law include college students staying on their parent's policies until age 26 and the closing of the "doughnut hole" in Medicare drug coverage.
Duffett is urging the governor to issue an executive order to set up the state-based insurance exchanges that the Affordable Care Act requires by 2014. State lawmakers have not taken that step.

But the Supreme Court's affirmation is a blow to personal freedom, according to the free-market Illinois Policy Institute, which argues that the plan will make health care harder to access for the poor and the sick, and that employers will drop the plans they now offer. Institute chief executive John Tillman says when it comes to insurance exchanges, you can kiss private insurance good-bye.

Southern Illinois Congressman Jerry Costello says the high court's ruling is significant.  The Belleville Democrat acknowledges the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but is an important first step.  Costello says there are some important benefits such as eliminating pre-existing condition restrictions, allowing young adults to remain on their parents insurance until age 26, and making prescription drugs more affordable for older adults.  Costello says congress now needs to concentrate on implementing the rest of the law as efficiently as possible.