Morning Must Reads Part II: Supreme Court Ruling a Victory But More Work to Be Done

Following the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act Thursday, The Philadelphia Inquirer takes a look at the decision, calling it a victory for common sense.

The landmark Supreme Court ruling Thursday upholding key tenets of the federal health-care overhaul was a victory for common sense. It offers hope to so many Americans who thought health insurance was beyond their reach.

At stake was not only the future aim of providing for almost two-thirds of the 50 million uninsured, but also major structural reforms under way in a sprawling sector of the U.S. economy that accounts for $2.7 trillion in spending, or $1 in every $6.

Already, people are benefiting from popular provisions of the 2010 law, which fully kicks in 18 months from now: Retirees, and all women, now have access to preventive care like mammograms and wellness visits. Nearly seven million young adults remain on their parents' health plans. An additional 5.3 million Medicare recipients reaped $3.7 billion in savings on medicine. With old lifetime limits of private insurance gone, you can no longer run out of coverage.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quotes Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. who wrote in his court opinion upholding the law that it is up to the American people to judge the wisdom of the law. 

“The court does so today. But the court does not express any opinion on the wisdom of the Affordable Care Act. Under the Constitution, that judgment is reserved to the people."

So wrote Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. at the end of his majority opinion upholding the Obama administration's signature policy achievement as constitutional (with one objection on the extension of Medicaid).

This reasoning may have followed a circuitous and unexpected route but its final destination was the right one. The decision gives some 30 million uninsured people hope. It addresses the concerns of those who feared Obamacare was robbing them of freedom by reminding them that Congress certainly does have the constitutional power to levy taxes.

Moreover, while this is a victory for President Barack Obama, the act's survival now depends, as Chief Justice Roberts indicated, on the American people.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reminds us that after Thursday’s ruling more work remains to be done to ensure that the Affordable Care Act is implemented here in Pennsylvania in the most consumer friendly way possible. Advocates will have to work particularly hard to ensure that state officials opt for the expansion of Medical Assistance, ensuring access to affordable health care for low-income families.

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett expressed his disappointment in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Thursday upholding the federal health care law but pledged to “limit the law’s negative impact on Pennsylvanians.” …

House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, said the ruling “provides certainty going forward for patients, small businesses, doctors and the health care providers that are some of Pennsylvania’s largest employers.”

The chairman of a state House panel overseeing health care said the “silver lining” in the ruling is language that lets states opt out of costly Medicaid expansion without being punished. It also lets states opt out of abortion funding, said Rep. Matthew Baker, R-Tioga County, an abortion opponent. …

Baker said Pennsylvania should decline the Medicaid expansion because it would cost from $800 million to $1.2 billion in the next few years.

Rep. Joe Markosek, D-Monroeville, said the costs of expanding Medicaid will be offset under the law through prescription drug discounts, reduced costs for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and lower costs in the state’s low-cost prescription drug program for low-income seniors.

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