Friday, July 6, 2012

Opinions on ACA remain divided after Supreme Court ruling

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has done little to forge a consensus on the law. Unions came out uniformly in favor of the ruling, while employer groups generally attacked it. And, according to at least one poll, Americans’ views are divided on the court’s opinion.

Unions react. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) praised the decision, which it called “an important first step toward true health care reform.” Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, also commended the decision, saying that the country “can continue moving full speed ahead to implement and build upon the Affordable Care Act.” He acknowledged that more work must be done to “achieve our dream of quality health care for all.”

Employers face challenges. AHIP CEO Karen Ignagni wrote an op-ed for Modern Healthcare saying now that the Supreme Court has ruled, the number one focus must be affordability. “Affordability is the issue that keeps millions of Americans awake at night. It is the issue that agonizes small-business owners struggling to keep their doors open…Affordability is what will ultimately determine whether or not healthcare reform works.”

American Benefits Council President James A. Klein focused on the challenges that employers face after the ruling.

"For the nation's major employers who provide health coverage for tens of millions of Americans, [the] decision by the Supreme Court means that their sights are set on the challenges that lie ahead, especially as they prepare to meet the law's core provisions that become effective in 2014," American Benefits Council President James A. Klein said.

"Throughout the legal challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the vast majority of employers remained focused on meeting their obligations under the law. Whatever steps Congress and the Administration take from today forward must clarify – not complicate – employer responsibilities. If both branches of government focus on scoring political points, rather than helping employers and health insurers meet their obligations, then the majority of Americans who rely on employer-sponsored coverage will suffer," said Klein.

Negative reactions. Critics of the law responded angrily to the ruling. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-Minn) condemned it as “a devastating blow to the American people” and saying that after the ruling, “there is no reasonable limit on federal power.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned that the Court’s decision leaves in place a law that is “fundamentally flawed. Left unchanged, it will cost many Americans their employer-based health insurance, undermine job creation, and raise health care costs for all.”

What does the public think? According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, Americans’ views on the court’s opinion are again divided, with 47 percent in favor of the resolution, 43 percent against, and 10 percent unsure. Eight in ten Democrats approve of the court’s decision to uphold the primary provisions of the health care law, while eight in ten Republicans disapprove, the survey found.


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