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Local Reactions: Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act

On Thursday morning the Supreme Court  largely upheld the Affordable Care Act.

The Court allowed the so-called individual mandate to stand, ruling that it is constitutional as a tax. It ruled that the Medicaid expansion is legal, and that the federal government can't take away Medicaid funding from individual states. (Read the entire decision here.)

This hotly contested and deeply politicized case has monumental impact on the health care system, insurance, and the lives of millions of Americans.

Thursday on Up to Date, we provide quick analysis of the ruling with health policy experts, and hear from politicians, providers, insurance companies, hospitals, and YOU about what this decision means for the health care system, insurance providers, and millions of Americans.

10:15 AM: Area health, business, civic, political and industry leaders are starting to weigh in on the decision. KCUR will be posting reactions below, but we also want to hear from you. What's your reaction to the Supreme Court's upholding of most of the Affordable Care Act? Join the conversation. Call 816 235 2888 during the show, email uptodate@kcur.org, Tweet us @KCURUptoDate, or join KCUR's Facebook discussion.

  • David Gentile, President of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City:
“It’s business as usual for us. We’re moving forward with the law as we began two years ago when law was first past.  We have some concerns with respect to adding unnecessary costs through the health insurance premium process and does it really get to a cost effective approach and deliver on the quality outcomes that we need….This new reaffirmation from the Supreme Court will continue to act as a catalyst for us to bring more innovation to the marketplace."

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, the largest insurer in Kansas (but doesn't cover Johnson or Wyandotte County) has issued the following statement:
"Today’s decision on the Affordable Care Act means Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas will continue to implement the law and educate our members on what it means for them, just as we’ve been doing since March 2010. We also will continue to work with state and federal regulators, and contracting health care providers to ensure that Kansans have affordable health insurance and high quality health care. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas will continue to be the company that Kansans trust to help them through this time of change."

  • U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan):
"I’m deeply disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to keep Obamacare in place. This is the wrong decision for our country. After two years, we have seen the problems and pitfalls of this law and they fall squarely on the shoulders of patients and Kansas families. The Court has affirmed that Obamacare is a new, additional tax. Care will cost more, and access to quality care will be reduced. No wonder a majority of Americans oppose it. It’s now up to the Congress to repeal and replace this law with step by step, common-sense, cost-cutting solutions that work for Kansans and all Americans and that’s what I will work to do in the Senate. There is no question today’s decision is a real setback for America and will make our work that much harder.”

  • Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R):
“Stopping ObamaCare is now in the hands of the American people.  It begins with electing a new president this fall.”

  • Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger (R):
"We would have been very concerned if the mandate had been overturned and the guaranteed issue maintained.  We don’t have price controls on these products, so that could have been a real problem.  We still have a mandate that’s not as strong, in terms of the penalties, but at least we do have a requirement that everybody find a way to buy coverage. Going forward, it’s making sure we do everything we can to work with the governor’s office and with the legislature here in the off session, at the very least, to retain the authority to be a partnership state (in an exchange)...The law finally says it’s public policy that everyone has access to health care, and it will help those that don’t have a means to pay for it up to a certain level.  Having said that, there are still the problems of low wage workers, if the state chooses to not expand the Medicaid coverage"

  • Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D):
“We’re just now beginning to review this ruling so that we can understand exactly what it means for Missouri.  This ruling has significant complexities and implications for families, health care providers and insurers in our state.  Here in Missouri, I'm committed to working collaboratively with citizens, businesses, medical providers and the legislature to move forward in a way that works best for families in our state.”

  • U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo):
“In 2010, Missourians overwhelmingly rejected the individual mandate and sent a clear signal to Washington that Americans oppose ObamaCare. Elections matter, and this decision underscores the fact that we need new leadership in the White House and the Senate. This decision does not change the fact that ObamaCare will lead to higher health care premiums, increased federal spending, and greater uncertainty for small business owners nationwide. That’s why Congress must repeal this deeply flawed law in its entirety and replace it with thoughtful, common-sense reforms that put patients and doctors in control of health care – not Washington bureaucrats.”

  • John LaBombard, spokesperson for U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo):
"There's only ever been one goal for Claire—affordable, accessible health care for Missouri."

  • Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster (D)
“A majority of justices agreed with Missouri’s analysis that the Commerce Clause could not be used to force citizens to purchase health insurance, but found that the ACA was constitutional under Congress’ taxing power. The complexity of the decision raises a host of pressing issues for our state, including the need to establish our own health care exchange, and Missouri’s future options regarding Medicaid expansion/ We will be carefully reviewing the Court’s decision in the coming days to determine the best way to protect Missourians, including the decision’s impact on Proposition C, passed in 2010 by more than 70 percent of the vote.”

  • Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt:
The Court’s majority declared Obamacare to be nothing more than an old-fashioned tax-and-spend program. No more can Congress or the President claim that this is ‘not a tax.’ American voters now must decide, through the 2012 elections, the wisdom of this formerly hidden tax increase. Kansas policy leaders also now have the choice whether or not to spend more Kansas taxpayer funds to expand the Medicaid program. The states’ arguments were not ignored. The Supreme Court today flatly rejected the federal government’s unprecedented power grab under the Commerce Clause. It also rejected the federal government’s effort to transform the Medicaid program from a federal-state partnership into a centralized program run by Washington, from Washington and solely for Washington. These legal rulings will benefit the long-term vigor of our federal system.”

  • Andrea Routh, director of the consumer group, Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance:
“We applaud the court’s decision to uphold the vital consumer protections contained in the Affordable Care Act. Missouri families can live free of fear that their insurance company will terminate their coverage the minute they get sick. Parents will be able to purchase insurance for their children, regardless of any pre-existing conditions they may have. Insurers must continue to provide preventative services such as mammograms at no cost to Missouri women because of this decision. The ruling clears the way for policy makers to implement the many facets of the law. There is a lot of work to do and we can do it in a way that works for everyone involved.”

  • Frank Ellis, Chair of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and CEO of Swope Health Services:
"This is a very exciting day and for small businesses, I think this is an opportunity for employers and employees to have access to health care.  A number of our small businesses can’t afford it, and the law does allow access for insurance."

More on the Affordable Care Act:
NPR's Live Blog On The Health Care Ruling
Interactive Annotated Supreme Court Ruling (via NPR)
Much At Stake For Area Residents, Health Systems With Upcoming Supreme Court Ruling
Nixon's Stance On Insurance Mandate Clarified And Criticized


When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Stephen Steigman is director of Classical KC and chief of broadcast operations for KCUR 89.3 and 91.9 Classical KC. You can email him at stephen@kcur.org.