Our Press Statement: Moving Forward With Health Reform (UPDATED: with video)

Moving Forward - Press event following Supreme Court Decision

(At a packed State House press event today, all of the key groups that came together to pass Massachusetts health reform celebrated the Supreme Court decision and affirmed our collective desire to move forward. The highlight was presentations by two consumers, each impacted by serious medical issues, and each able to get good care only because of health reform)

UPDATE: Thanks to our friends at the Mass Medical Society for this video:

BOSTON – Today policymakers, consumers and consumer advocates, religious leaders, providers, labor leaders, businesses, and insurers applauded the Supreme Court decision on upholding the individual mandate and other key provisions of the Federal Affordable Care Act. Under the slogan “Massachusetts Health Reform: Moving Forward”, stakeholders that worked together to pass Chapter 58 (the 2006 Massachusetts health reform law) convened at the State House to celebrate this victory and to reaffirm their commitment to the Massachusetts law that increased health coverage to 98% of the Massachusetts
population.

Today’s decision in favor of the ACA not only means expanding access to care to millions of Americans but it will also have a direct impact for the residents of Massachusetts. Under the federal law, more middle income families in the Commonwealth will have access to coverage subsidies, young people will be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies up to age 26, residents will enjoy a free annual primary care visit a year and senior citizens will experience a reduction in the cost of their prescription drugs.

The ruling was welcomed by policymakers, government officials, consumers’ advocates, physicians, insurers and providers in Massachusetts who have seen the success of the state law that became the blueprint for the federal legislation signed by Obama in 2010.

“This is great news for Massachusetts and the country. We have already expanded access to health care for hundreds of thousands Massachusetts residents, and now we can do more”, stated Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Executive Director of Health Care For All. “The ACA will make a remarkable difference in the lives of millions of Americans, who will finally be able to get the health care they need.”

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court means that millions of uninsured Americas can see a path to getting affordable health insurance and obtaining the same benefits of improved health and security that people in Massachusetts have experienced under Governor Patrick’s leadership,” stated Secretary JudyAnn Bigby of the Executive Office of Health and Human services. “Massachusetts residents will benefit from the ongoing implementation of the ACA because more people will have access to affordable health insurance, seniors will continue to see their drug costs go down, and people with disabilities will benefit from a system of care that meets their unique needs. This is a great day for Massachusetts and for America.”

“I welcome today’s United States Supreme Court decision upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This historic opinion memorializes on a federal level what we are already doing here in Massachusetts – providing access to healthcare to all of our citizens. Accordingly, we will continue our work on health care reform, leading the nation as we collectively curb health care costs and deliver coverage to our residents. As all of the implications of today’s ruling become clear, I am hopeful that the federal government will maintain its fiscal partnership with our efforts,” stated House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo.

“We’re elated that the nation will now be able to taste what we in MA give thanks for daily — health care for our people”, stated Reverend Burn Stanfield, President of GBIO. “Today’s ruling ends the constitution debate around health reform, and it should end the rancorous political debate as well.”

“Today’s ruling is a validation of decades of work here in Massachusetts to expand health care coverage to all of our citizens,” said Andrew Dreyfus, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. “All Americans will now have the same health care benefits and protections that Massachusetts residents have known for years.”

“Today is an important day for millions of Americans who will now have access to health care coverage,” said Gary Gottlieb M.D., President and CEO of Partners HealthCare. “Our state leaders can be proud of the example the Commonwealth has set in providing our citizens with primary and preventive care that will improve their health today and for the lives of generations to come.”

“Physicians in Massachusetts have been strong supporters of our state health reform movement from the beginning. Universal coverage has been better for our patients, and it’s been better for the practice of medicine. When people have insurance, they are more likely to get the care they need, when they need it. They are also more likely to discuss preventive care measures with their doctor and that may lead to longer and healthier lives. And when the public’s health is good, society is more productive, the economy is vibrant, and the social fabric of the community is as strong as it can be. That’s why is we are so pleased that the ACA was upheld,” said Frank Fortin of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

“Today, Massachusetts healthcare workers are celebrating, because we know firsthand that Massachusetts health reform has saved lives – and that moving forward, national health reform will do the same”, stated Veronica Turner, Executive Vice President of 1199 SEIU. “Our mission as healthcare workers is to ensure quality, affordable access to healthcare for our patients and today is a significant step forward towards that goal and vision.”

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the entire nation. Massachusetts’ hospitals enthusiastically applaud today’s decision. This judicial “green light” furthers our hospitals’ on-going efforts to provide high-quality care on a cost-effective basis, and take the next step forward with adoption of the Massachusetts payment reform law currently being determined on Beacon Hill,” said Timothy Gens, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Massachusetts Hospital Association.

“We are extremely pleased with today’s Supreme Court ruling,” said James W. Hunt, Jr., president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. “In the past five years we have made great strides and stand ready to work with community health centers across the country to help them put in place the elements of reform that in our experience have demonstrated cost-savings, increased accessibility and better coordination of care.”

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8 Responses to Our Press Statement: Moving Forward With Health Reform (UPDATED: with video)

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  3. ? says:

    Does SEIU 1199 have a waiver from the ACA, and the mandate protecting the right to NOT be forced to get health insurance?

  4. ! says:

    The so-called individual mandate was upheld! It protects the right to NOT be forced to get health insurance! It’s doubtful if any at that packed State House understood that!

    • dianne says:

      Amy Whitcomb Slemmer,

      Do you not have the courage to answer the question I asked you at the end of my comment above – How many is it OK to exploit in order to benefit a few?

      Does Health Care for Some still receive funding from Blue Cross Blue Shield?

      How do you like the part of the ruling that says states don’t have to expand Medicaid? Did all of you standing in front of the state house celebrate that as well?

      Expanded Medicaid is an intergral piece of the Obamacare scheme – the dumping ground for poor and low-income citizens. Oh, well, at least folks will be saved from being forced to sign up for a mandated collateral loan a/k/a the federally-required estate recovery program which applies to all states that receive federal Medicaid funding. (OBRA 1993)

    • dianne says:

      To !,

      How does the ruling protect the right to not be forced to get health insurance?

      It is my understanding that the only people who won’t be forced into this scheme will be those who qualify for expanded Medicaid and are excused b/c the state where they reside refused to expand it.

      Oh, yeah, and also the 24 million who won’t be able to find affordable coverage and will also be officially excused from the penalty just like in MA.

      But not everyone in the country will be excused from the penalty. Please explain your comment. Thanks.

  5. dianne says:

    The Supreme Court decision to uphold Obamacare was not a victory for anyone except the insurers and pharma. Obamacare is despotism disguised as health care reform. It is a means to control people’s finances, incomes and health care choices and puts the burden of America’s barbaric health care system squarely on the backs of the people it claims to help while it insures profits for the medical industrial complex. It has nothing to do with access to affordable care with uniform benefits for all Americans. It is merely a class-based system that forces people to purchase the broken products. In fact, America’s disease maintenance system is perpetuated under the mandate that was upheld.

    For starters read the article by Timothy Jost at the link below:
    http://pnhp.org/blog/2011/02/17/tax-day-surprise-for-some-exchange-participants/

    The proposed increase in the refund requirements mentioned did, in fact, become law. At less than 200% FPL up to $600 excess premium must be returned, at 200-300% up to $1500, at 300-400% up to $2500, and over 400% FPL the entire subsidy must be returned.

    (here is the link to the amendment that increased the payback caps)
    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-112publ9/html/PLAW-112publ9.htm

    —————————–

    Aside from the paybacks for having earned as little as $1 over the FPL someone was in during the prior year, take into consideration the following from Kaiser Family Foundation and the figures and words from Don McCanne which paint a rather bleak but true picture of how Obamacare works. People will never be able to get ahead or even stay afloat with regard to their basic necessities such as food, heat, property taxes, education loans, etc (the MA plan had the same effect – many have to intentionally lower their incomes or keep them low in order to survive Chapter 58) – this is regressive and oppressive:

    Kaiser Family Foundation

    Based on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (including subsequent amendments in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010), as signed by the President.

    The premiums are illustrative examples in 2014 dollars derived from estimates of average premiums for 2016 from the Congressional Budget Office.

    Premium subsidies are based on a silver plan (with an actuarial value of 70%), so all premiums shown are for silver coverage. People may be able to pay a lower premium for less comprehensive coverage (i.e., a bronze plan, with an actuarial value of 60%). The tables showing results by age and income also reflect premiums for silver coverage, though the minimum insurance that people would be required to obtain would be bronze coverage.

    The actual premium calculated is adjusted for family type, and for age (within the three to one limit specified in the proposal). Subsidized people can enroll in more expensive plans, but must pay the full difference in the premium.

    Health Reform Subsidy Calculator:
    http://healthreform.kff.org/SubsidyCalculator.aspx#incomeAgeTables

    Comment (by Don McCanne): On June 28, the Supreme Court will release its ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. If the full Act is repealed, individuals who would have purchased plans in the state insurance exchanges will receive neither their premium subsidies nor their tax credits for out-of-pocket expenses. What precisely would they be losing?

    Let’s use the Health Reform Subsidy Calculator to check a few examples. In each example, we will assume that the policyholder is 45, has a family of four, and does not have employer coverage available. For this family living in a region with a medium cost factor, the predicted premium for the silver plan (70% actuarial value) is $14,245. In the examples, we will change only the income level.

    Income: $31,155 (133% of poverty)
    Premium payment: None – covered by Medicaid
    Maximum out-of-pocket costs: None – covered by Medicaid

    Income: $31,156 (133% of poverty plus $1)
    Premium payment: $935
    Maximum out-of-pocket costs: $4,167

    Note that at this level, one additional dollar of income results in the family losing the more comprehensive benefits of the Medicaid program, and mandates that they pay a premium of $935 plus potential out-of-pocket expenses of $4,167, for a total exposure of $5,202. That’s a staggering amount at this income level. Compliance surely would be a problem, not by lack of will but simply by inability to pay.

    Income: $93,700 (400% of poverty)
    Premium payment: $8,901
    Maximum out-of-pocket costs: $8,333

    Income: $93,701 (400% of poverty plus $1)
    Premium payment: $14,245
    Maximum out-of-pocket costs: $12,500

    So at an income of $93,700, the premium would be $8,901 and the potential out-of-pocket costs would be $8,333, for a total exposure of $17,234. That is quite a dent for a family that is trying to save for two college educations, a retirement fund, and maybe for replacement of the broken-down family automobile. But add just one more dollar of income and the premium shoots up to $14,245 and potential out-of-pocket expenses to $12,500, for a total of $26,745. Then what are you going to cut out of the family budget? And isn’t the $9,511 increase quite a “tax” to pay on that one dollar of additional income?

    Just the premium increase alone might cause this family to downgrade their coverage from silver (70% actuarial value) to bronze (60%) in order to save on the premium. If so, this family literally would be placing a bet that none of them would develop a serious medical problem, and it would lose the bet if any of them did so. Should we really be forcing a family to gamble on its health care coverage?

    —————-

    People will be forced to purchase insurance which is unaffordable to use – the cheapest plan at the Exchange will be 60/40 with a yet-to-be-determined annual per person deductible.

    That fact combined with all of the above is only the tip of the iceberg, and it must be noted that people in MA have been similarly affected although Obamacare is worse.

    So, Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, why is it that you and your cohorts at Health Care for All aren’t talking in detail about these important items that will adversely and seriously impact millions of Americans?

    I pose this important question to you and await a meaningful response with no obsfucation and no disingenuous remarks:

    How many people is it OK to exploit in order to benefit a few?

  6. Peter Tande says:

    This is great news! Although I doubt that the political debate will die down. I suspect that it will actually intensify a great deal.

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