Governor, other NC politicians react to Supreme Court keeping health subsidies

RALEIGH, N.C. – Some credit the Affordable Care Act with allowing them to afford insurance while others say their premiums are rising out of control as a result. The U.S. Supreme Court decided that those who are receiving federal subsidies can continue to do so regardless of their state’s plan. Reaction is understandably mixed.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that federal subsidies helped nearly 460,000 North Carolina residents buy coverage. A ruling against the subsidies in the King v. Burwell case could have caused the law many call Obamacare to crumble.

“I’m very pleased there is finally clarity to a poorly-written legislation,” said North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who now wants to move forward on Medicaid reform in North Carolina.

“We’ve got to make sure that in order to take care of those failing through the cracks that we don’t break the entire system for those who currently have insurance. That’s the balance.”

He said he is concerned about the possible ramifications of the law including the impact on rising health care costs and accessibility to doctors.

Other Republicans are saying they will continue working to repeal the health insurance overhaul law championed by President Obama.

But Democratic Congressman David Price of North Carolina’s 4th district indicates the law is here to stay. “I am glad that the Supreme Court has once again confirmed what we already knew – the Affordable Care Act stands on solid legal ground,” Rep. Price said. “We finally have the unfounded legal challenges behind us, and we can focus on continuing to effectively implement the law’s reforms and making progress toward ensuring access to health care for millions of previously-uninsured Americans.”

Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers of North Carolina’s 2nd district said that Supreme Court decision further institutionalizes a fundamentally flawed and damaged health care law. “It is disappointing to see the Supreme Court prop up this floundering law yet again,” Rep. Ellmers said. “Having served as a nurse and cared for the sick, I understand how vital it is that every American has access to affordable and high-quality healthcare. However, Obamacare has shown us time and time again –at the public’s expense—that its policy is inadequate and unaffordable for the American people.”

U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) says that regardless of Thursday’s decision, the fact remains that the Affordable Care Act is not working for the American people.

“While the Court may have ruled on the issue of subsidies in the federal exchanges, this fundamentally flawed law continues to speak for itself in the form of broken promises, government mandates, and double-digit premium increases,” Sen. Burr said. “Obamacare must be repealed and replaced with health care reforms that expand access to quality and affordable health care by empowering individuals in their health care decisions—not Washington bureaucrats.”

The junior senator from North Carolina, Thom Tillis (R-NC), agrees, saying that millions of Americans lost their health insurance plans that they were promised they could keep. Sen. Tillis said, “Both parties need to come together to fix our broken health care system once and for all by making it more affordable, accountable, and patient focused, and giving families more freedom and choice when it comes to making decisions that work best for them.”

Wayne Goodwin, North Carolina’s Commissioner of Insurance, and a Democrat, is happy with the court’s decision. “If the court had ruled that North Carolinians are ineligible for subsidies to help them pay for their health insurance, there would have been chaos in our market,” Goodwin said. “This ruling provides more stability for policyholders and the insurance industry, and I am relieved that hundreds of thousands of people in our state will not lose their coverage”

Robert W. Seligson, the CEO of the North Carolina Medical Society, said he is pleased that more people have health insurance coverage today than prior to the legislation but he acknowledges the problems with it. “No legislation is perfect, especially one as far-reaching as the Affordable Care Act,” Seligson said. “We will strive to retain the positive aspects of the law and fix what is broken on behalf of our members and their patients.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina expressed relief that the uncertainty of the decision is “behind us” in a statement Thursday. “We will remain focused on finding ways to control health care costs and helping North Carolinians prepare for the next Annual Open Enrollment Period,” which is Nov. 1. BCBSNC officials claim that health care consumers and insurers nationwide should not see any changes as a result of the Supreme Court decision.

Gov. Pat McCrory had said he was waiting for Thursday’s ruling before recommending whether to expand Medicaid to more of North Carolina’s uninsured. His spokesman didn’t respond to what McCrory plans next.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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