San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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UPDATED 10:31 a.m. JUNE 28:

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, an Austin Democrat whose district includes Hays County, released this statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on landmark healthcare legislation:

This is a significant victory for every family and small business denied insurance or overcharged or mistreated by an insurer. And it is a victory for seniors who gain better Medicare coverage. Now we must continue our struggle to overcome the naysayers and obstructionists to assure each family has access to a family doctor.


TEXAS TRIBUNE PHOTO ILLUSTRATION by TODD WISEMAN, EDDIE CODEL

by SHEFALI LUTHRA

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health care legislation, is constitutional — including the individual mandate that forces Americans to carry health insurance, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The decision has far-reaching implications for Texas, where leaders have ardently opposed “Obamacare” even though the state has the country’s highest percent of uninsured residents. In addition to requiring all citizens to purchase health insurance, the law dramatically expands Medicaid, which already makes up close to a quarter of Texas’ state budget.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to uphold the individual mandate, saying it is constitutional under the federal government’s taxing power: The only effect of not carrying insurance is paying a tax. The court also held that the Medicaid expansion is constitutional, but that the federal government may not withhold Medicaid funds from states that fail to comply with the expansion. (Read the ruling here.)

In Texas, Medicaid, the state health plan for the disabled and very poor, mostly covers children. Under federal health reform, the program will expand to cover many poor adults, like the parents of children already covered. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has not yet begun working to enact the Medicaid expansion, and will need guidance from the federal government to do so, agency spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman has said.

The law also requires states to set up health insurance exchanges — marketplaces for consumers to shop for the best deal on health plans. The federal government will establish them for states that don’t do it themselves. Texas, which was one of 26 states to join the lawsuit against federal health reform, has not yet established an exchange, but officials have said the state is in a position to do it quickly.

The Affordable Care Act will eventually cost Texas big money — especially once the state starts footing the bill for part of the Medicaid expansion. But it has also already resulted in increased funding for the state. The Health Care Innovation Awards, which have granted more than $40 million to Texas-based health care projects, were funded under the law. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department Health and Human Services awarded about $5.3 million to health centers in Texas under the act.

But don’t expect the court’s decision to mean the end of health reform debate. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has said he expects new lawsuits at the state and federal level challenging the law’s other components.

SHEFALI LUTHRA interns for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.

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15 thoughts on “Doggett: SCOTUS ruling on healthcare ‘significant victory’

  1. This is a huge victory, I’m proud of our Supreme Court for making this decision. I’ve been waiting for real health care reform since Clinton….it’s been a LONG wait!

  2. People who choose not to insure themselves or their families eventually incur medical bills that are paid, in one way or another, by society. My health insurance premiums are high not because I frequently make costly claims — I don’t — but in part because I’m helping to cover high-cost insureds and the astronomical expenses of uninsured patients who get their healthcare from the most expensive provider on the planet: an American emergency room.

    The individual mandate merely codifies an informal and inequitable billing system that has been in place for years. I don’t love the idea of a mandate, either, but at least someone’s doing something to address the unsustainable, flaming pile-up that is healthcare in this country.

    Kudos to Roberts for doing his job. He’ll be vilified by the right. That’s unfortunate.

  3. Tarl, god bless you, you saw the wonderful fact that Roberts finally figured it out. It’s his job to do the right thing.

  4. I wonder if you guys would say he did the his job if he had been against it? BTW, I lean right and am completely opposed to ACA and agree that he made the right decision.

  5. By actually being a conservative justice, not a right wing activist, I would be fine with Robert’s opinions in any case. It’s the activism, both left wing and right wing on the Court that I take issue with.

  6. The endless expansion of the power and scope of the Federal Government has been accomplished through the constant reinterpritation of the commerce clause of the constitution to cover more and more aspects of life as being interstate commerce. With Obamacare they were trying to force everyone to purchse something whether they wanted it or not. Roberts specifically and emphatically rejected this, thus meaning the majority of the court will allow no further expansion of federal power under the commerce clause. I wonder when Doggett and his supporters are going to realize that with yesterdays ruling they won the battle, but lost the war.

  7. Or you just avoid the commerce clause altogether and shape whatever behavior you like by calling it a tax…I’m not so sure that we have not just shifted the semantics…

  8. Why is it that so many ignore the very well researched and publicized fact that the American system of healthcare is getting us less good healthcare per dollar spent than the countries that have national healthcare systems? Obamacare may be bad (and I agree with that), but what we had before was worse and on the verge of becoming much, much, worse for the insured and uninsured both.

  9. Charlie: you are correct. The standard of living gap that we are creating in this nation is probably not tenable under a democratic system if we keep heading in this direction. This is a HUGE problem that hardly anyone considers. But, have we actually done anything with this to address our systemic flaws?

    I hope so but am not holding my breath. At the same time have we not, by the means of this precedent, provided the state with a powerful new tool to reach more deeply into our lives? And, given the increasingly incestual and pervasive corporate-governmental relationship WE the people have allowed to develop while we somnambulate our way through life, is there not a very serious danger that we have driven one more nail in the coffin of individual liberty?

    Those who are content to unquestioningly follow the status quo and buy whatever crap de jour is being fobbed off by the likes of Walmart and Disney Inc. will be likely be fine. My worry is for those people in 50 years (or maybe sooner?) who dare vocalize an opinion that does not follow along with the accepted state line. Have we not just possibly legitimized yet another governmental tool to force their compliance to the officially correct position? Like I said, I very much hope I am wrong, but there seem to be MANY trends heading in a frightening direction, one toward a hidden-in-plain-view corporate autocracy.

  10. Charlie, because of the ethnic diversity of the U.S. compared to other countries with national healthcare, and because of our self-destructive habits, and because of the way statistics are gathered (live-births), it’s very hard to compare our quality of health care. Although U.S. healthcare has its problems, it didn’t get this way overnight and there’s no silver-bullet solution. I believe partisan politics prevent us from agreeing on incremental, reasonable solutions. Still, most Americans have pretty good health care.

    When most Americans have it good they’re not likely to aggressively seek to fix it for the few who have it bad. Especially if it puts their own situation in peril.

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