Columbus Regional Hospital said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the federal health care legislation provides much-needed clarity, while Cummins Inc. said it still is reviewing the decision.
A local insurance services provider, meanwhile reacted with surprise at a portion of the ruling, and the director of a local health clinic for uninsured people said he welcomed the ruling because it means more people will get health care — though he worried about the impact of another part of the ruling.
The Supreme Court’s ruling provides the definitive answer that Columbus Regional Hospital had been seeking about moving forward with changes required by the 2010 health care law, the
hospital said in an email.
“The Supreme Court decision means that we have much-needed clarity to continue on our path of transforming the way we deliver health care,” said Dr. Tom Sonderman, Columbus Regional’s chief medical officer. “We will continue to work with patients, all health care providers, employers and the community to implement better coordinated, high-quality care and to increase access to affordable health care for our community.”
He said the hospital has been working as if the law would be enacted and implemented, so the court’s decision confirms that the hospital’s efforts toward health care reform should continue.
Cummins said in an email that it is “working with our experts to understand all of (the ruling’s) implications.”
The county’s largest employer said that its current strategy “preserves our employer-sponsored approach now and into the future.”
Cummins also said that any health care reform must “encourage good consumerism by maintaining health savings accounts (and) promoting wellness and prevention.”
Marc Rothbart, senior vice president of SIHO insurance services, said, “As with any law, there is both good and bad. Hopefully, as implementation progresses, some of the programs in the law aimed at changing the financial incentives in our health system from volume-driven to quality-driven will make a real impact. Insurance rates are a function of underlying health care costs, that point just cannot be lost.”
Rothbart said via email that he was somewhat surprised that the court upheld the individual mandate under Congress’ authority to collect taxes.
Without the mandate, the government would have had the difficult task of removing certain portions of the law that the mandate helps pay for, Rothbart said.
“Without the true spread of the risk that mandating all individuals have coverage provides, the insurance industry is open to adverse selection, where individuals only sign up for coverage when they are sick or injured,” Rothbart said. “We need the healthy individuals to offset the sick. As it stands currently in the law, there is some question as to whether or not the penalties are large enough to avoid adverse selection.”
Keith Weedman, executive director of Volunteers in Medicine, the county’s free health clinic for uninsured people of low-income, said he welcomed the ruling because it means more people will have health insurance.
“We’ve always been a believer in access to care and access to health insurance. And as good of care as you can get at a free clinic ... you can’t beat health insurance,” Weedman said.
However, he worried about the Supreme Court finding problems with the law’s expansion of Medicaid.
Under the health care law, the Medicaid population would expand to include people with incomes of up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
The court, though, said the expansion can proceed as long as the federal government does not threaten to withold states’ entire Medicaid allotment if they do not participate in the law’s extension.
Weedman said he expects the state’s next governor and next Indiana General Assembly, which will be decided in the general elections in November, to decide whether Indiana participates in the Medicaid expansion.
The decision would affect how many more people have access to health care, and what Volunteers in Medicine’s future role will be, Weedman said.
He also said that the legislation would cover most if not all of the clinic’s patients, which means that the clinic may no longer be needed.
Volunteers in Medicine, 836 Jackson St., opened in 1996 and serves more than 1,000 people annually.
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