The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
The decision means the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will continue to take effect over the next several years. It will impact the way all Americans receive and pay for their medical care and insurance.
The court upheld the individual mandate by a 5-4 vote. Chief Justice John Roberts angered many of his fellow conservatives when he sided with the more liberal members of the court.
Our exclusive FactFinder 12 Scientific Survey conducted after the court's decision, found 52-percent of Kansans think the court erred in its decision. The poll also found 38-percent support the outcome.
In the second part of its decision, the court found problems with the law's expansion of Medicaid. By a 7-2 vote, the majority said the expansion could proceed as long as the federal government does not withhold existing Medicaid dollars to states if they don't take part in the extension.
What You Need To Know
- Individual Mandate - Requirement that Americans have or buy health insurance by 2014 or face a penalty, although many are exempt.
In 2014, the penalty will be $285 per family or 1% of income, whichever is greater. By 2016, it goes up to $2,085 per family or 2.5% of income.
Health care exchanges, which are designed to offer cheaper health care plans, remain in place as well.
- Those Already Insured - Because the requirement remains for people to have or buy insurance, the revenue stream designed to help pay for the law remains in place. So insured Americans may be avoiding a spike in premiums that could have resulted if the high court had tossed out the individual mandate but left other requirements on insurers in place.
- Young People - Millions of young adults up to age 26 who have gained health insurance due to the law will be able to keep it.
- Pre-Existing Conditions - The requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing medical conditions continues.
The law established that children under the age of 19 could no longer have limited benefits or be denied benefits because they had a pre-existing condition.
Starting in 2014, the law makes it illegal for any health insurance plan to use pre-existing conditions to exclude, limit or set unrealistic rates on coverage. It also established national high-risk pools that people with such conditions could join sooner to get health insurance.
- Businesses - As of 2014,small companies with more than 50 full-time employees will have to provide coverage or face fines.
What It Means For Kansas
The Republican-dominated state government has been hostile to the 2010 federal law and hasn't moved to set up an online health insurance marketplace. Last year, GOP Gov. Sam Brownback's administration returned a $31.5 million federal grant given to help set up an exchange.
Gov. Brownback wants to wait until after the November presidential election to decide what to do about the online marketplace and whether the state will expand its Medicaid program. He predicts that if GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is elected, states won't have to put either in effect.
Reaction to the decision was immediate and varied. The White House, Democrats and liberals praised the outcome. Republicans, including president-candidate Mitt Romney said just the opposite.
"Stopping ObamaCare is now in the hands of the American people. It begins with electing a new president this fall," said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.
Sen. Pat Roberts said, "This is the wrong decision for our country. After two years, we have seen the problems and pitfalls of this law and they fall squarely on the shoulders of patients and Kansas families. The Court has affirmed that Obamacare is a new, additional tax. Care will cost more, and access to quality care will be reduced. No wonder a majority of Americans oppose it."
Health Professionals Weigh In
Wichita-area medical centers are excited about the news, but still wary whether or not Kansas will reject federal funding.
At Hunter Health Clinic, dentists drill teeth and doctors offer medical services at little to no cost to patients. "Our sliding fee scale goes down to $25 as a minimum payment for services that may be worth $200-$300," said Hunter Health Clinic CEO Suzette Schwartz.
They estimate about 70% of their patients are uninsured. So the ruling to them requires those 20,000 patients to have insurance and they'll see additional money like they've never had before.
"If we had more in the way of patient revenues we would be able to expand the services to more people and we would be able to provide more primary care services."
The ruling isn't set in stone Schwartz is cautiously optimistic. "We're eccstatic to find out the law was not overturned, but we're still a little concerned about what happens here in Kansas."
At Wesley Medical Center, they're also excited, but say the ruling won't change much from a service standpoint.
"We are severely burdened already and we just adapt, we have to. Our mission always is taking care of every patient, everytime," said Chief Financial Officer Matthew Leary.
Still, there's plenty of for debate before the act's full implementation in 2014. "We're a little bit guarded because we don't know what Kansas is going to do about it," said Schwartz.
The federal government currently gives the Hunter Health Clinic a third of its funding. As written, the additional money could help them with plans for a new building.