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State, local officials react to Supreme Court ruling

Thursday’s Supreme Court decision to uphold a key portion of Obama’s health care overhaul drew mixed reactions around the nation, including Texas where thousands stood to lose coverage if the court’s decision had gone the other way.
The Supreme Court justices 6-3 decision keeps intact federal tax credits that 8.7 million Americans receive to help pay for health insurance premiums. The ruling determines that those credits can be provided to residents of any state, regardless of whether that state set up health care exchanges under the 2010 health care law.
Nationally, 10.2 million people have signed up for the health insurance under the Obama health care overhaul, and are receiving an average subsidy of $272 per month to help defray health care premium costs, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Of those receiving subsidies, 6.4 million people were at risk of losing the assistance because they lived in 34 states, including Texas, that chose not to set up health care exchanges.
Instead, those states relied on the federally created healthcare.gov to help people find health care coverage.
District 22 State Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, said he was glad to see the ruling.
“I think it is helping so many millions of citizens with health care,” Deshotel said. “The court has sometimes leaned to the right, so I am glad to see the rule of the law was not political. It’s just a shame that Republicans would rather see people suffer than see people succeed in anything.”
Dade Phelan, District 22 State Representative Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, said the ruling solidifies that the federal government will administer the health care exchanges, and not the states that choose to not participate.
“I think if a state does not want to do it, it does not have to,” Phelan said. “Regardless of the merits of this case, it seems like this has taken on a life of its own. No where in that bill was there any language that addressed the ability to administer subsidies.”
Challengers to the Affordable Care Act took issue with the four words “established by the state” arguing that the vast majority of people who now get help paying for their insurance premiums are ineligible for their federal tax credits because their state did not establish the federal marketplaces.
“Today, it is a big victory for hard working Texans. Close to one million people will keep their health care coverage at a reasonable and affordable price,” Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a press statement issued Thursday.
State Republicans looked at the court’s decision differently.
“Unfortunately today’s decision doesn’t change the fact that Obamacare is broken. Texans are faced with the reality of skyrocketing premiums that could rise as much as 64 percent next year as a result of this law. Democrats can celebrate today, but they do so at the expense of millions of hardworking Americans who have suffered because of Obamacare,” Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Mechler, said Monday.
Randy Weber, U.S. Representative from the Texas 14th Congressional District, vowed to continue working to dismantle the health care overhaul.
“The president’s health care law has been a major disappointment for hard-working Americans. Families are being forced to pay higher premiums for less coverage. The President promised that under this law all would be covered. According to the Texas Hospital Association, in my district alone, 164,976 Texans are still uninsured. Healthcare should be an affordable choice, not a mandate on taxpayers.”
In a press statement released by the Texas Hospital Association Thursday, the THA applauded the Supreme Court ruling.
“With more than 1 million Texans purchasing private health insurance coverage through the federal marketplace and 86 percent of those receiving tax credits, Texas hospitals can breathe a sigh of relief now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Burwell,” Ted Shaw, THA president/CEO said.
Because Texas still leads the nation in the number of uninsured, Shaw said there is still much work to be done to increase access to coverage.
“But there little doubt that hospitals’ financial challenges would be even greater if more than 1 million Texas were added to the rolls of the uninsured,” Shaw said.
A decision to end the Marketplace subsidies in King v. Burwell would have resulted in a loss of approximately $4.4 billion in federal premium subsidies for Texans in 2016, according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities.
Governor Greg Abbott released the following statement Thursday about the Supreme Court decision.
“The Supreme Court abandoned the Constitution to resuscitate a failing healthcare law. Today’s action underscores why it is now more important than ever to ensure we elect a President who will repeal Obamacare and enact real healthcare reforms.”
E-mail: sherry.koonce@panews.com
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