Supreme Court upholds healthcare actPublished 2:37pm Friday, June 29, 2012
The Supreme Court decided with a 5-4 vote Thursday to uphold the heavily debated 2010 Affordable Care Act.
“I think my first reaction is that the Supreme Court has ruled, and as a health institution we have to comply with that decision,” said Jim Peace, President and CEO of Russell Medical Center.
The court’s ruling upheld one of the most controversial parts of the law, which mandates that all Americans must have health insurance by 2014 or pay a fine. The Supreme Court upheld that facet of the law using the federal government’s power to levy taxes.
“In the ruling, the court mandated it was constitutional that they could force Americans to buy insurance,” Peace said.
The more concerning matter for Russell Medical Center, however, is the section on Medicaid. Peace estimated around 13 percent of the hospital’s patients use Medicaid to pay for services.
“What we don’t know is one area that settled funding on the Medicaid side,” Peace said. “They fell short of making that clear, as I understand it. They want to expand the Medicaid program nationwide and fell short of saying how that’s going to happen because they can’t force states to do that.
“That’s probably my biggest concern – how to manage an increase in the population that’s covered under a program we’re not being funded to manage,” Peace added.
Peace said he, as well as the doctors at Russell Medical Center, are staying positive about the decision.
“I like to believe overall it will be a good thing for healthcare,” Peace said. “Being in the business for 20-plus years, I know we have to change the way our model works today. It just can’t come solely at the expense of the provider – our country can’t afford to see escalating costs. That affects all Americans and people in Tallapoosa County at this point.”
Peace said the ruling wasn’t completely unexpected.
“We all anticipated this was going to happen,” Peace said. “Over the next several years as this thing becomes implemented, we’ll adjust accordingly. Our mission here is care.”
Peace said the 5,000-page legislation has both negative and positive elements.
“The opportunity to expand coverage for Americans with existing illnesses is a good component to the act,” Peace said. “Pieces of it are good, and pieces of it are bad. Americans will have access to health insurance that don’t have access today. Small businesses will be forced to make insurance available to their employees because if they don’t they’ll be penalized.”
Peace echoed a statement from the Alabama Hospitals Association in that he was pleased the bill was passed as a whole instead of piecemeal.
“What (AHA) said was that the most important thing is that the bill in its entirety was passed and not components or fragments, which would have caused us as a hospital and those around the nation to suffer,” Peace said.
Rep. Mike Rogers (AL – 03) made a statement after the court’s decision was passed down.
“I am deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling today on the healthcare law,” Rogers said in a statement. “I believe the law threatens American jobs by imposing steep taxes and mandates on small businesses, and I am deeply concerned this ruling gives Washington even greater power to intrude on personal freedoms.”
Peace said he and the hospital staff will continue to work to provide the same care, no matter what ruling is passed down from the Supreme Court.
“At the end of the day, our mission here is to provide quality healthcare at the most affordable price that we can do that,” Peace said. “That’s what we’ll do and continue to do.”