Obamacare Ruling 'Imperfect' | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Obamacare Ruling 'Imperfect'

President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats tout the "Obamacare" health-care law as a major reason that many Americans are better off than they were four years ago.

President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats tout the "Obamacare" health-care law as a major reason that many Americans are better off than they were four years ago. Photo by Kenya Hudson

Mississippians might not want to celebrate this morning's U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming President Barack Obama's health-care law just yet.

With Chief Justice John Roberts as the surprising swing vote, justices ruled 5-4 that the act is constitutional. However, the ruling still leaves the door open for states to opt out of expanding Medicaid coverage by not allowing the federal government to penalize states.

Warren Yoder, executive director of the Public Policy Center of Mississippi, said overall the ruling was "great but not perfect," but added the Medicaid provision could hurt the middle class—the people Obamacare was designed to take care of.

"We're not talking about poor families; they're covered. We're not talking about well-to-do families, even in a Mississippi context; they're covered. We're talking about the middle. ... It's the middle that we're worried about," Yoder said.

Still, Obama and his supporters are touting the ruling as a victory. Originally, Obama's administration had argued that the law would stand under the Constitution's commerce clause, which empowers Congress to regulate businesses.

Under the act, Obama argued, small businesses would benefit from a tax credit to help pay for insuring workers, by prohibiting insurance companies for charging more for businesses with sick workers and creating health exchanges to give small companies more bargaining power. However, the court didn't uphold the act under the commerce clause.

"It would not survive the commerce clause of the Constitution, but because the effect of not complying with the mandate is a 'tax,' then Congress does have that authority," the ruling states.

The Affordable Care Act requires people who don't have health coverage to purchase insurance on the open market or face penalties. It also prohibits insurance providers from denying coverage because a person has a preexisting condition and would cover approximately 30 million uninsured Americans.

Speaking from the White House, Obama said the law was necessary for the nation's future prosperity.

This morning's SCOTUS decision spurred an outpouring of reaction from supporters of Obama and the act as well from the law's opponents.

"The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court today does not change the fact that Obamacare raises taxes on Americans and expands the bureaucracy of our health-care system," Lt. Gov. Reeves said in an emailed statement. "Defeating Barack Obama in November is even more important to limit the intrusion of the federal government into our daily lives and fight for the full repeal of Obamacare."

Obama will face former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the presidency in November. Under Romney's governorship, Massachusetts implemented a health-care law that served as the model for the federal Affordable Care Act. Romney used the occasion to make a case for his presidential candidacy.

"If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we're going to have to replace President Obama," said Romney, a Republican. 
Linda Darnell of Dekalb agreed with Romney, calling SCOTUS' ruling "upsetting."

"Contrary to what they said, it will cost more money. This could be what breaks the country," Darnell said, speaking at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Others were jubilant, heralding the decision as a win for Obama.

"If the Supreme Court upheld it, (and) they have more knowledge (about the health care), I would certainly stand with them and with my president," said Albert Stokes of Utica at the medical mall.

Twenty-six states challenged ACA on the grounds that forcing states to add millions more people to the Medicaid rolls was coercive. Those states represent approximately 8.5 million people who would benefit if those states expanded eligibility by 2019.

Mississippi has already received more than $71 million in federal grants under the act for community health centers, consumer-protection programs, public health infrastructure support, health-care training, research activities, public education and to set up health-care exchanges.

Without the Medicaid expansion, Yoder believes there's a serious question whether those middle-class families will be left uninsured in Mississippi and other southern states that have been hostile to the ACA.

"We're hopeful, but at this moment, nobody really knows how this is going to work out for these middle class families that we're so worried about," Yoder said. "It has the potential to hurt working families pretty hard--it could hit them hard.

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donnaladd 8 years, 3 months ago

Interesting http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505245_16...">follow-up by CBS News:

*Top Republicans in Mississippi say the state can't afford to expand its Medicaid program to cover more people under the federal health care overhaul. Some Democrats, however, say the state should jump at the chance to provide coverage for its more than half million uninsured residents.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of the federal Affordable Care Act on Thursday. But justices said the federal government can't withhold Medicaid money from states that choose not to expand Medicaid coverage to more low-income adults. [...]

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said Thursday that Mississippi would have to make deep cuts to education and transportation to cover expenses for an estimated 400,000 new people on Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the needy.

"I understand there is some leeway in the decision to not penalize states for not complying with Medicaid requirements, and we're going to look at that," Bryant said in a brief interview. The Kaiser Family Foundation gives a lower estimate of how many people could enroll in Medicaid in Mississippi if the state expands coverage under the federal health law — about 330,000.

Mississippi had 641,454 people enrolled in Medicaid in May, the most recent figure available. That's about 22 percent of its 3 million residents. The U.S. Census Bureau said Mississippi had about 618,000 uninsured residents in 2010, or 21 percent of the population.*


scrappy1 8 years, 3 months ago

2700 pages that most of a democrat controlled congress had not read before they passed it It is now identified as the largest tax increase in US history. Many of the costs and charges have not been identified. The costs of the Medicaid increase to cover adults will transfer from the federal government to the states over a period of years. How will states like California with large debts pay for it? Take into consideration the history of the administration that orchestrated this and the prospects for it really benefiting us are improbable. We have a President that won't defend our borders. We have a Homeland Security that is instructing the Border Patrol "to run" not fight armed illegal. And yet we're supposed to be overjoyed by government healthcare that most know very little about other than it is free for the less productive of our society.


tstauffer 8 years, 3 months ago

FYI, here's a good answer to the newly minted GOP talking point that Obamacare is the "biggest tax increase in history."


And isn't it the Right that gets hot and bothered about class warfare? What sort of class warfare is rolled up in the phrase "the less productive of our society," when you consider how many full-time and multi-job hourly workers exist at or only slightly above the poverty line, where one injury or illness would bankrupt them under the existing system?


goldeneagle97 8 years, 2 months ago

As it has been pointed out, it is not the largest tax increase in US history. How can it be when the mandate tax/penalty/fee (whatever you want to call it) will only apply to up to 6% of the population, according to [url=http://www.urban.org/publications/412...">http://www.urban.org/publications/412...]the Urban Institute[/url] (though I've read elsewhere that may 2-5%). I've also seen elsewhere that Romney's plan in MA (pretty much the exact same thing as "Obamacare") penalized less than one percent of residents there (about 46,000 out of 6.5 million). I'll post the link when I find the source for it.

I don't really know how Romney can run away from healthcare reform when [url=http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-...">http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-...]his own advisor said it's the same bill as Obama's[/url], and when Romney wrote an [url=http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/...">http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/....]op-ed piece in USA Today[/url] suggesting Obama could learn from what he did as governor of MA.


tstauffer 8 years, 2 months ago

Heh. GoldenEagle, we changed up the URLs on ya. You can highlight a term and use the "link" command now when blogging, or use regular HTML link constructs, as in: <a href="url">Link text</a>

Or... just paste in the link. Seems to link-a-fy automagically.


goldeneagle97 8 years, 2 months ago

Aaahhhh...ch-ch-changes, as David Bowie once sang.


scrappy1 8 years, 3 months ago

The children and poor are already covered. The elderly are already covered. By Mississippi not joining the federal medicaid increase that leaves the adults 18-65 still needing to take care of themselves, as they should. President Obama has the largest tax increase in the history of the US and there are clearly limits to what he can order us to do!


tstauffer 8 years, 3 months ago

Again, not the largest tax increase in history. (Or, as Rush said, "in the world." LOL.)



tstauffer 8 years, 3 months ago

In case anyone missed it:

On Monday, Eric Fehrnstrom, Mr. Romney’s senior adviser, strayed wildly from the coordinated comments of the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill and other party strategists by saying Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, agrees with Democrats that Mr. Obama’s health care mandate is not a tax.


Romney's not calling it a tax. Why? Because then he'd have to admit to raising taxes when he was governor of Massachusetts. Instead, it's a "penalty" to discourage "free riders."

In an opinion article in USA Today in 2009, Mr. Romney again used the term “free riders,” writing that a penalty like that in his health care plan “encourages ‘free riders’ to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical cost on to others.”

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