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Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling unlikely to end debate

June 26, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke was among the lawmakers praising the Supreme Court decision. Photo by Rob Abruzzese
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As the country continued to digest the monumental U.S. Supreme Court ruling that preserved the Affordable Care Act (ACA), reaction from various lawmakers, political parties and stakeholders poured in.

U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-Central Brooklyn) was among the elected officials who praised the high court’s ruling in the case of King v. Burwell.

“I commend the Supreme Court for upholding access to health care for millions of Americans,” Clarke said. “As a member of the House of Representatives who voted for the Affordable Care Act, I know that we wanted the law to work for American families, both in states-based health care exchanges, as in New York, and in the federal health care exchange operated by the Department of Health and Human Services. A majority of the Supreme Court understood that too.”

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In a 6-3 decision announced on June 25, the justices ruled that subsidies that are provided under the federal exchange operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help consumers pay their health insurance are permissible.

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn-Queens), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, called the ACA, a law also known as Obamacare, “one of the most important pieces of legislation of our generation.”

The ACA “has provided vital health insurance to millions of people across this nation, many of whom could not afford it or were previously denied due to preexisting conditions,” Jeffries said. “The Supreme Court acted in a bipartisan and responsible manner to protect the Affordable Care Act and the tax subsidies it provides for hardworking Americans,” Jeffries added.

But leaders of the New York State Conservative Party said the Supreme Court made a big mistake. The Conservatives predicted dire consequences for the nation.

The decision today brings the United States closer to a universal health care system that will overburden a system that underpays the medical personnel dedicated to improving the health of citizens,” party leaders said in a statement issued Thursday. “The unintended consequences of today’s Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell will be a health system like the United Kingdom’s where patients are left outside hospitals in ambulances withering in pain for hours due to a government regulation that patients must be seen within four hours of admitting. The crisis is real in the UK and today’s decision puts America in the same situation.”

Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens, also criticized the ruling. He said Obamacare should be dismantled and replaced with a better health care law. 

“Congress has an opportunity to flex its muscles by moving forward with a plan to replace Obamacare with a law that actually enhances access to healthcare,” Weber said. “The Supreme Court’s ruling that allows insurance subsidies offered by Federal exchanges must not disrupt plans to enact a new law that is equitable and efficient.”

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman praised the decision.

“The Supreme Court’s decision that citizens in all states may receive insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act is a victory for all Americans,” he said. “Obamacare has already resulted in significant benefits to New Yorkers, where over a million individuals and families now have access to the care they need, ensuring a healthier state far into the future.”

Teresa C. Younger, president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, said the ruling will help millions of Americans.

“The Supreme Court’s decision preserves much needed tax credits that enable millions of working families to access health care that they would otherwise not be able to afford it,” she said. “Now, more than six million people will be able to maintain their health care coverage; including a disproportionate number of women.”

The Supreme Court’s decision “confirms that the Affordable Care Act’s tax credits are available to all eligible Americans, no matter where they live,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

“Americans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia can continue to rely on the security and peace of mind that come with affordable, quality health care coverage,” Burwell added. “Over six million Americans and their families will sleep easier knowing they will still be able to afford health coverage.”

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