Elected officials and industry leaders reacted swiftly and sometimes passionately Thursday following news of the Supreme Court decision to uphold affordable the Affordable Care Act.
• State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler recalled in an interview that he had predicted – when he was a student at Curtis High School – that health care reform was a decade away.
“I only missed it by 40 years,” he said.
He said Washington is among 10 states leading the way toward the 2014 deadline for the installation of the full reforms called for in the health care legislation upheld by the court.
“What it means now to me, as we’ve been doing all of this hard work implementing these early reforms, gearing up for 2014 when the major changes take effect, is that the work has not been for naught,” he said.
The people of the state, he said, “are going to have a lot more predictability. For the vast majority of people who have health insurance, there won’t be hardly any change. But for hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians it is going to mean more comprehensive coverage. I think people will grow into it, and they are going to be more comfortable with it.”
• Cliff Robertson, chief operating officer at Franciscan Health System, said: “The key is to find ways to extend access to those who are most vulnerable. While this law is not perfect, it does go a long way to help us extend the care we can deliver, particularly to those populations that are most vulnerable. We have to lead the charge toward a more affordable health system. We believe that this law is a step forward into a positive future.”
• Diane Cecchettini, president and CEO of MultiCare Health System, said in a statement that the law the court upheld “is a good thing for the health of our community. With this ruling, MultiCare will continue preparing for health care reform. As always, we will focus on improving quality, expanding access to care and making care more affordable.”
• Amy Carter, spokeswoman for Premera Blue Cross, said the Court has ended months of speculation and that “Premera will continue to be focused on implementing federal health care reform as smoothly as possible and delivering the products and services our customers value.”
While it expands access to coverage, she said, “the law does little to address the critical issue of rising medical costs, which remains the largest driver of the rising cost of health care coverage. In fact we believe that federal reform law will push costs higher.”
• Rachelle Cunningham, spokeswoman for Regence BlueShield, said her company will continue to implement the law as required. Still, she said, it “does not meaningfully address the unsustainable rise in health care costs. It also includes a premium tax that we oppose because it increases the cost of coverage for consumers and employers.”
• Diane Sosne, president of SEIU Health Care 1199 NW – a union that represents some 22,000 health care workers in the state – began a brief interview by saying: “I am ecstatic. What this practically means is that we can finish the job of enabling all Americans to have the peace of mind that health care insurance brings. This is a life-changing ruling.”
She said, “We have turned a major corner in this country.”