TOPEKA — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled by narrow 5-4 margin Thursday to to uphold the federal health care law and extend health coverage to 350,000 Kansas residents, or about 13 percent of the population who don’t now have it.
The decision was a setback for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and fellow conservatives, who say the law infringes on Americans’ civil liberties.
“Stopping Obamacare is now in the hands of the American people. It begins with electing a new president this fall,” Brownback said in a terse, one-line statement issued after the decision was announced.
Kansans who’ve been debating the controversial plan since its passage in 2010 say the controversy is far from over.
“One way or another, this thing will continue to be litigated for at least another four or five years,” predicted Art Hall, a University of Kansas economist who has studied the potential consequences of federal health programs on the Kansas budget.
Kansas, like many other states seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act, have been putting off much of the procedural spadework that will be needed to implement what the U.S. Supreme Court left standing, Hall said. Federal officials seem similarly unprepared to create machinery, such as health-care exchanges, that the law requires them to produce if states don’t come up with their own versions.
So with lots to do, little time to do it and partisans on both sides of the debate seemingly determined to continue pushing their view, “anything that appears to solve anything will be litigated,” Hall said.
The ruling means Kansans now more than ever “need protection from government mandates that define their choices,” said state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee.
Pilcher-Cook said — before the full ruling was announced — when the state Legislature reconvenes in January she planned to reintroduce a proposed Kansas Health Care Freedom amendment to the state constitution that would exempt state residents from the universal coverage and other requirements.
Kansas legislators passed and Brownback last month signed legislation making those exemptions state law, but not part of the state constitution.
For now, though, Thursday’s ruling in Washington means, “there will be a lot more suits filed over specific provisions of the law,” Pilcher-Cook predicted.
State Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee and a staunch Affordable Care Act opponent, said he fears the verdict will be costly.
“It already has been,” Rubin said. “We’ve spent $5 million to $10 million we didn’t need to build a state computer system that could accommodate Obamacare.”
But that’s small change compared to some larger consequences Rubin said he fears from the decision.
Rubin is no fan of the federal legislation’s so-called individual mandate, which required everyone to buy health insurance to help control insurers costs for paying for health care.
Rubin contends that requirement is unconstitutional, but said overturning that requirement would have brought harsher consequences.
“Without universal coverage, private insurance companies can’t survive,” Rubin said. “Healthy people won’t buy policies and the loss ratios insurances companies incur paying for the sick will be out of whack, which will put them out of business.”
- VA: Governor says ACA ruling will be ‘costly’ for Virginians
- FL: Court’s decision ‘vindication’ of Obama?
- WI: Walker says he won’t implement ACA in Badger State
- KS: Gov. says law infringes on civil liberties
- PA: Business professionals speak out against ACA
- PA: The ACA decision could affect Pennsylvanians young and old
- VA: Friend of my enemy is? Protesters from both sides decry Obamacare
- Experts: Health care ruling may fundamentally alter federal powers
- IL: No matter SCOTUS ruling, health care cost going up
- WI: Do Obamacare drug savings come at a cost for seniors?
- PA: Keystone State lawmaker says ruling is ‘unfortunate’
- IA: Branstad calls decision disastorous; urges Iowans to continue fight
- SKYLES: Counting conservative victories in a liberal health care decision
- MT: ‘Like Heroin’: Lawmakers worry about cost of Medicaid expansion after ‘free money’ goes away
- PA: ACA trickle-down could hamper economic growth
- SPARKS: The president’s theater of the surreal
- OK: Fallin, legislative leaders decry ‘ObamaCare’ ruling
- PA: Corbett says ‘respect for law’ is part of democracy
- MO: State’s health-care providers, lawmakers grapple with SCOTUS decision
- GREENHUT: ObamaCare decision helps a muddled GOP
- CO: AG finds ‘silver lining’ in Supreme Court’s ruling on Medicaid
- OK: History says earth is round, medical costs will rise under Obamacare