Supreme Court upholds health care law, cities and states react

In a landmark ruling today, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), specifically the individual mandate challenge. The Court did provide one exception for states – states may opt out of a provision in the bill that requires them to expand eligibility of the Medicaid program. We have included here some of the early reaction from states and cities.

The full opinion is available here.

Chief Justice Roberts on the expansion excecption – “A State that opts out of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion in health care coverage thus stands to lose not merely ‘a relatively small percentage’ of its existing Medicaid funding, but all of it.”

Congress cannot “penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding.”

Early state reactions:

Rhode Island:
“Access to affordable health care is a necessity for all Americans, and I am proud that President Obama’s historic health care reform law, which I strongly support, has been upheld by the Supreme Court – this decision ensures that nearly 15,000 Rhode Island seniors will continue to save on their prescription drug costs, more than 7,500 young adults in our state will be able to stay on their parents’ plans until they are 26, and insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage to as many as 54,000 Rhode Island children who live with pre-existing conditions,” said Congressman David Cicilline.

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, said the state will now “pick up the pace” and make decisions about the new exchange.

New Jersey:
Sen. Nia Gill, a Democrat from Montclair, is bringing back a bill to build a state insurance exchange, the bill was killed by Governor Christie who said he wanted to wait for the ruling before moving forward.

Attorney General Pam Bond, one of the Attorneys General who brought the court challenge, and sat in the front row while the decision was being handed down said she was “surprised and shocked,” by the ruling. Florida Governor Rick Scott who has staked his career on overturning the health care bill said he will withhold comment until he has fully reviewed the decision.


Los Angeles:
“In addition to those who will be newly eligible for Medi-Cal, three-quarters of a million additional County residents will be able to purchase affordable health insurance through the state’s health insurance exchange, take control of their health, and reduce pressure on our strained County-run health care system,” Mitchell H. Katz, M.D., Director, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, said in a statement.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino:

Like many others who believe that access to healthcare is fundamental, I strongly support the Supreme Court’s decision today to uphold the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act. This legislation, like the law we passed in Massachusetts, will extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, level the playing field between consumers and insurance companies and help us to contain runaway healthcare spending.