Local healthcare providers have started to weigh in on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, with one hospital calling it “a victory for patient care.”
The court ruled 5-4 today to uphold Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the most contentious issue -- the so-called mandate that all citizens must have insurance by 2014 or pay a tax penalty.
As Democrats and Republicans continued to sound off on and crow over the landmark decision, healthcare providers across the region were still taking it in.
In a statement issued by Dignity Health – the San Francisco-based parent organization of Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center – Chief Executive Lloyd H. Dean said that while “it is not a perfect bill, the Affordable Care Act does enable us to finally bring the American health care system into the 21st Century.”
Many hospitals in the region have been implementing provisions of the healthcare law in preparation for the individual mandate to take effect, which is expected to bring millions of previously uninsured residents into the fold.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, more than 80% of the 2.2 million people who are uninsured in Los Angeles County stand to gain access to affordable insurance coverage, according to a statement today from Mitchell H. Katz, director of the county Department of Health Services.
If anything, the High Court’s ruling gives healthcare providers some measure of assurance that the law will remain in place, despite vows by Republicans in Congress today to repeal the act.
“We can now continue our work to expand care to those in need, knowing the policies are in place that will foster higher quality and lower costs for all,” Mark A. Meyers, president of Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, said in a statement.
Whatever the measure of political certainty afforded by the court’s decision, Michael Hunn, senior vice president and regional chief executive for Providence Health & Services, Southern California, said the ruling doesn’t dull the need to reduce costs of delivering health care.
“We must better coordinate care, that’s not going to change,” Hunn said. “We need to create the path for everyone to have access to care and work in collaboration with physicians and legislators to do that.”
Providence has five Southern California medical centers, including Providence Saint Joseph in Burbank, Providence Holy Cross in Mission Hills and Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance.
He pointed to several programs in which his hospitals collaborate with other agencies and providers to expand access to healthcare.
“Ultimately, we have to reduce the total cost of care,” Hunn said. “The Supreme Court decision doesn’t change that.”
-- Jason Wells and Maria Hsin, Times Community News