Health Team

Court ruling lets insurers, hospitals exhale, prepare

Posted June 28, 2012

— Health care providers and insurers expressed relief Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law that overhauls the nation's health care system, saying it now allows them to prepare for the slew of changes set to take effect in two years.

"We are very glad to have the ruling behind us so that we have certainty, at least for now, that we need to continue our efforts to comply with the law," said Barbara Morales Burke, vice president for health policy at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, the state's largest insurer.

Dr. Victor Dzau, chief executive of Duke University Health System, said the ruling provides the industry with needed direction.

"For a while, there's all this speculation – where is this going to go? I think having clarity is very important because now we can move forward," Dzau said.

Duke Health has expanded its presence across the Triangle as a primary health care provider to prepare for the expansion of coverage that the law will bring.

"We need to be prepared to have a sufficient number of providers to take care of this demand," Dzau said. "(People) can have access to care – primary care and prevention – and reduce the use of emergency rooms. So, (people are) coming in the front door of the health care system rather than the backdoor."

The North Carolina Medical Society said a number of issues still need to be addressed for health reform to be successful in the U.S., such as the cost and financing of existing government-sponsored health coverage programs and widespread physician shortages.

Insurers agreed that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should be only the first step in reining in medical costs nationwide.

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"Much more must be done to fix the problems that remain in our health care system. We believe there is still time – if people can come together in a bipartisan way – to improve quality and affordability," Aetna spokeswoman Susan Millerick said in a statement.

"The health care reform law falls short in controlling the underlying cause of our nation’s health care crisis – costs that are too high and rising too fast. Affordable and stable coverage must be our top priority," Humana Chairman and Chief Executive Michael McCallister said in a statement.

“Health care modernization did not begin and must not end with the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," UnitedHealthcare spokeswoman Tracey Lempner said in a statement. "Now is the time to apply proven ideas and best practices to build a better health care system.”

All of the companies said they wanted to work with both Democratic and Republican policymakers to build on the Affordable Care Act.

"We know we need to continue as we have been in focusing on improving health care quality and affordability," Burke said.

Dzau said he's confident that the law will fix many problems in the nation's health care system.

"Providing good quality care – affordable care – and access to health care for everybody who needs is the right philosophy and the right values," he said.

Burke said it was important to keep the so-called individual mandate in place to help insurers pay for other provisions of the law, such as eliminating lifetime caps on coverage and preventing insurers from denying coverage of pre-existing conditions. The mandate, which requires everyone to have health coverage by 2014 or face financial penalties, was a critical element of the law that the Supreme Court narrowly upheld.

"We do believe that it's important and a good thing that those provisions remain able to work together," she said.

Insurers said it's too early to determine the law's cost impact on people's health policies.

"We can expect changes in the future when it comes to what coverage costs, and it's very complex. Not everyone will be impacted the same way," Burke said.

But she stressed that customers should relax now that the court has determined the law is legal. "Nothing is changing for them. Their coverage remains as it has been," she said.


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  • sweetums googoo Jun 29, 2012


    If you have healthcare now, you already pay for these things, just at a much higher rate overall...

  • Bartmeister Jun 29, 2012

    We have taken a first small step. It is going to take a lot more to bring The United states up to the level of health care available in the rest of the civilized world. piene2


    The first small step to Socialized Healthcare, subsidized medicine and care for those that feel entitled to benefits paid by others. Yea boy, got a long way to go to catch up don't we? I've always had healthcare. Why don't others? After a 40% and higher increase in premiums, people will start to change their minds about Obamacare. No worries, it will be rectified in the next administration this coming year when Baroke is ejected and relieved of his duties as Prez. Bazinga! Done and gone.

  • TheBigLC Jun 29, 2012

    MakoII, still talking about Bush? Gosh I am beginning to believe you have a thing for him.... I mean like a "thing".

  • LambeauSouth Jun 29, 2012

    Gaining total control as we must, could very well give us the opportunity to legislate this TAX right out the window. Just a guess, but I think a real possibility. Guess we'll see soon enough!

    Then what? you can afford 10,000 for a check up, because then all limits are removed and they will take every last dime from you because your child is running a 104 temp, you willing to do that?

  • Crumps Br0ther Jun 29, 2012

    Rome wasn't built in a year and neither will the health care system..
    Big Mike

    Rome did collapse though. Your homework for today is to find out why and compare and contrast to what we have today. Ill get you started, the economy based upon slave labor, which is basically outsourcing, precluded a middle class with buying power, which means they couldnt buy anything. The Roman Empire produced few exportable goods, what do we ship to other countries besides jobs and a few other trinkets? Material innovation, whether through entrepreneurialism or technological advancement, all but ended long before the final dissolution of the Empire. We sell all our good ideas to other countries or its very hard for someone to get money now start a company if they have a good idea. Ya see where all this is going? Its unsustainable. But what do you care your got your freebies so what does that matter, you can fiddle while it burns too.

  • sweetums googoo Jun 29, 2012

    Next step- Single Payer. When the for-profits refuse to give a reasonable premium.
    For those that say the taxes will go up as a result, well they will (but now I can opt-in to this program if I choose whereas now I can't opt-in to someone's un-covered emergency room visit that I (and you) pay for anyway...)
    Might as well get a benefit rather than continue with the status quo and get nothing good in return...

    Stop and think for yourself... reeeeeaaaaaallllll haaaarrrrrrdddddd. You will see it...

  • MakoII Jun 29, 2012

    Republicans take the white House , Senate, and retain the House=Obamacare gone!

    Actually no. The GOP would have to win 60 Senate seats to stop a filibuster by minority Democrats under that situation.

    There is literally no way to overturn this law. Republicans will not get 60 Senate seats for the foreseeable future. Unless Obama wins and they have a huge win in seats in 2014, but then, Obama will veto it.

    This will be law at least until 2017 and by then, people won't want to go back on losing insurance for their kids in graduate school, women paying more than men for the same insurance, being thrown off for pre-existing conditions.

    The plain fact is, people oppose Democrats and Obama, but the OVERWHELMING number are FOR the provisions. And they won't give them up.

    I have a prophesy for you: The next GOP President will ADD to Obamacare, not take it away!!!

    (Just like Bush added to Medicare)

  • sweetums googoo Jun 29, 2012

    In response to some of these comments:
    *I am not responsible for anyone else's life situation. (personal responsibility and mandate)
    *I am not responsible for anyones healthcare but my own or dependents. (personal responsibility)

    *I am currently picking up the tab for the uninsured. (nature of the current system being replaced with this law)
    *I am currently picking up the tab for those who can not find/keep a job. (social safety net we ALL may need at some point, those who want it slashed.... lose your job and see how your view changes)
    *I am currently picking up the tab for those who can not pay for the services provided by our government ... (for whatever reason or life situation one is in, you never know, your life situation may change one day...)

  • sweetums googoo Jun 29, 2012

    There is no for-profit entity involved with health care that gives a darn about you (when it comes to accounting)! These entities will take profits for a bit until the markets evolve companies to compete on this new field and prices will eventually go down, bankruptcies due to health care costs will go down, insurance companies will get more policy holders, hospitals will be paid for services rendered and the newly insured can get a regular doctors visit to address a simple ailment for a fractional cost of really getting sick and going to the emergency room for care.

    The overall cost for care will go down for everyone involved! This law is good for all involved. Now the for-profit health care entities need to do their part.

  • sweetums googoo Jun 29, 2012

    Anyone who thinks that this law is a bad thing obviously is a fool. Fear-mongering and mis-information have tainted the feeble minded. But thats OK, try and think for yourselves for a moment....
    Who do you think picks up the tab if someone goes to the emergency room with no insurance? Who...? Well the hospital eats a tiny fraction (supplemented by the GVT) and passes the difference to the insurance companies for people with health insurance (and start collections for the uninsured persons that lead to bankruptcy, foreclosures, litigations, et al ). The insurance companies then pass on the cost as premiums to all their policy holders. Does the government pick it up? Well, the local, state and federal governments pick up some of the costs if you meet their criteria.
    So who pickups the tab??? If you are lucky to have health insurance .... you (and I) do! This is a built in cost that those with coverage already pay.