Knoxville — The United States Supreme Court upheld the "Affordable Care Act," also known as "Obamacare," this morning. Regardless of how the Court would have ruled, Knoxville Hospital and Clinics CEO Kevin Kincaid said it would not have changed the hospital's mission.
That mission is to serve the health care needs of Knoxville and surrounding areas. Nevertheless, Kincaid said KHC was paying close attention to the Supreme Court's decision, as over half of the hospital's revenue comes from government sources.
The Iowa Hospital Association agreed to take a cut in Medicare payments, with the understanding that the new law mandates that everyone purchase health insurance. This mandate was at the heart of the challenge, but the Court found that the mandate is a tax, which Congress has the authority to levy.
Greg Battenhamer, Senior VP of Government Relations for the IHA, was visiting KHC this morning. He said the actions health care agencies across the state have already taken in reaction to the law would have been difficult to undo.
"We expect both sides of the aisle to put their slant and spin on it," Kincaid added. House Speaker John Boehner has already announced a plan to vote to repeal the law. Senate Republicans also oppose it.
The upcoming election may change the future of the law, if Republicans are able to keep control of the House and take control of the Presidency and Senate. Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney has already pledged to work toward repealing the law, though he signed similar legislation while serving as Governor of Massachusetts. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad was disappointed with the ruling.
“Today, the Supreme Court handed down a disastrous decision to uphold President Obama’s destructive health care law, which means a future of higher costs, higher taxes, and increasing debt for Iowans. The current health care system is nothing but a federal takeover and continues to exceed its budgeted amount every day. But, as Governor Romney has said many times, no matter what may happen in Court, the American people must remain vigilant in their fight to repeal the law. Our goal is for Iowa to become the healthiest state in the country and to do so Iowans will need to take ownership of their own health to reduce health care costs and lead healthier lives," Branstad said in a statement.
The Court's vote was 5-4. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with Justices Ginsberg, Kagen, Sotomayer and Breyer in favor of the decision. Justices Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy and Alito opposed the action. Kagen and Sotomayer are Obama appointees to the Court. Roberts was appointed by President George W. Bush.
We will get more reactions for a full story in the July 6 Journal-Express.