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Local Health Care providers respond to Courts decision on health care

June 28, 2012

Earlier today, a group of health care providers, connected to the coalition known as the Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, hosted a press conference in response to the US Supreme Court’s decision to affirm the Affordable Care Acts (ACA).

Those present at the press conference were celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision as a victory for the American people. Eli Isaguirre, with the Michigan Consumers for Healthcare group said, “With the Affordable Care Act validated by the country’s highest court, the key protections for Michigan families will move forward.” Isaguirre also said the State of Michigan now needs to move quickly to, “create a state health exchange that would empower Michigan consumers to make better healthcare decision.”

Isaguirre’s affirmation of the court’s decision today was affirmed by Chris Shea with Cherry Street Health Services, Jennifer Feuerstein with the Gerontology Network and Kathy Humphrey with Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan.

According to the speakers today, the affirmation of the ACA will mean:

  • Insurance companies cannot deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions
  • Preventative services will be offered without copays
  • There will be no annual lifetime caps on coverage

Kathy Humphrey also stated that this decision was a victory for women and their families. She said that women are often faced with the difficult choices in today’s economy of being able to pay for health care or to pay the rent. “More and more women have also been struggling to have access to birth control, which we see as a fundamental health care service.

Today’s Supreme Court decision was an interesting one in that it was Justice Roberts who had the deciding vote, something that those who supported the ACA did not expect. Author and activist John Stauber had an interesting response to Roberts’ decision by stating, “It was a brilliant move by far Right Chief Justice Roberts to side with the Dem-appointed Justices and uphold ObamaCare.  After all, this is a massive victory for corporate power, forcing citizens to buy an expensive insurance product that won’t serve our needs very well but will profit industry, in lieu of receiving real health care.”

Such sentiments were widespread on Indy media sources today, such as Democracy Now, which was devoted a whole hour to this issue on their show. The debate on Democracy Now ranged from those enthusiastic about the Supreme Court decision to those who thought it was a good first step, to those with a more critical view of what the ACA will really provide.

We asked Eli Isaguirre after the press conference today if the Michigan Consumers for Healthcare group was planning on pushing for even greater health care access for Americans and supporting a Medicare for all or single payer system. Eli said that they “definitely wanted to move forward with improving the healthcare system beyond the ACA,” but that for right now they were going to focus on getting the State of Michigan to implement the provisions of the ACA in this state.

The National Nurses United organization, which represents thousands of nurses across the country, said in a press release today that the Supreme Court’s decision should not be seen as an end in itself. “The Affordable Care Act still leaves some 27 million people without health coverage, does little to constrain rising out of pocket health care costs, or to stop the all too routine denials of needed medical care by insurance companies because they don’t want to pay for it.”

The group Physicians for a National Health Care Program, a group dedicated to a Single Payer Health care plan, also weighed in on the Supreme Court’s decision today.

Contrary to the claims of those who say we are “unrealistic,” a single-payer system is within practical reach. The most rapid way to achieve universal coverage would be to improve upon the existing Medicare program and expand it to cover people of all ages. There is legislation before Congress, notably H.R. 676, the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act,” which would do precisely that.

What is truly unrealistic is believing that we can provide universal and affordable health care in a system dominated by private insurers and Big Pharma.

The American people desperately need a universal health system that delivers comprehensive, equitable, compassionate and high-quality care, with free choice of provider and no financial barriers to access. Polls have repeatedly shown an improved Medicare for all, which meets these criteria, is the remedy preferred by two-thirds of the population. A solid majority of the medical profession now favors such an approach, as well.

While it was clear that the coalition of groups that held a press conference in Grand Rapids were celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision, it is clear that so much more needs to be done to guarantee that health care is a right deserved by all.

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