Reactions to the Supreme Court's decision regarding national health care reform vary. During UPR's Access Utah broadcast Thursday morning, guests were asked to give their reaction to the decision, less than an hour after the announcement, and by mid-day Utah's high-level politicians had released their statements.
There are more than 380,000 uninsured Utah residents, roughly 14% of the state's population. Christine, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, called in to Thursday's Access Utah program to tell her story:
"I'm actually uninsurable. I had to rely on the Federal program, which when you look at is really not a very good health plan policy. For me as an individual female at 47 years old, to have a $5,000 deductible I was going to have to spend almost $8,000 a year at day 1 of coverage."
Judi Hilman of the Utah Health Policy Project says the decision gives the state an opportunity to catch up on efforts to implement the affordable care act in good faith:
"We're all in this together. the beauty of upholding the mandate is that we're saying 'Okay, we are all in this together. We're for the private market to be the foundation of a reformed health care system where all of us get our coverage. We need to share the risk and bring young people into the market.' That's the wonderful role the mandate plays."
Representative Jim Dunnigan, chair of the Utah Legislature’s Health System Reform Task Force, is confused by the decision.
"When the bill was presented to Congress a couple years ago, it was presented that it was not a tax. They didn't want to have their fingerprints on a tax increase, so the bill's sponsors said 'This is not a tax.' Then the Supremes had to go to the second level to find a way to uphold the individual mandate by saying, 'This is a tax.'"
Governor Herbert expressed extreme disappointment in the decision and released a statement shortly after the announcement saying:
"This law may be constitutional, but it's still bad policy.The Affordable Care Act imposes a one-size-fits-all plan on all states, effectively driving us to the lowest common denominator. It results in burdensome regulation, higher costs, and a massive, budget-busting Medicaid expansion... When it comes to the greatest policy challenges of our time, especially with regard to health care reform, we don’t need a federal mandate to solve our problems. We need state solutions."
Utah Senator Mike Lee's statement ended with a call to repeal the Affordable Care Act in November:
"When we look back at today’s decision in the coming months and years, I believe it may ultimately be regarded not as a victory for the Affordable Care Act but instead as a recognition and validation of federalism, limited government, and the freedoms protected by our constitutional structure."
Utah Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis's response included more hopeful, celebratory language:
"Today is a good day for uninsured Utahns, who will be able to obtain affordable coverage, reducing the burden on their families and the American taxpayer.”
The Utah Democrats claim among the positives, that as a direct result of the Affordable Care Act, more than 22,000 Utahns under the age of 26 are covered under their parents' insurance and 50,000 Utah children with pre-existing conditions are now insurable.
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