Here’s a compilation of prominent Georgians’ reactions to the Supreme Court ruling. Some have been edited for length.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens:
“I disagree with this decision. Congress explicitly said this was not a tax. I call on Congress to act swiftly, repeal the law and replace it with real reform that respects the Constitution as written.”
Gov. Nathan Deal:
“Today, the highest court in the country let the American people down…While we recognize this is a huge setback for fiscal sanity and personal liberty, we are not giving up. Georgians and the American people deserve high-quality, sustainable health care. Congress must now work steadfastly on repealing this law and replacing it with reforms that help taxpayers instead of hurt them.”
Dr. Robert Wiskind, president, Georgia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics:
“The ACA allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance up to age 26, prevents insurers from dropping coverage when a child becomes ill, increases payment under Medicaid to Medicare levels for at least two years, increases funding for training of pediatric subspecialists, and encourages children to have a medical home where they can receive coordinated care. The Georgia AAP hopes that in future discussions about the ACA and health care reform all political parties at the state and national level will keep the needs of children at the forefront.’’
Debbie Hackman, chief executive officer, Georgia Nurses Association:
“There is a crisis in our emergency rooms when the uninsured overload the system with health conditions that could have been preventable through routine health care. The ACA’s requirement of universal minimum coverage is an opportunity to provide insured routine and preventative health care and keep costs down for everyone.”
State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens:
“I am disappointed by this ruling, and unlike the narrow majority of the court, I believe the individual mandate to be unconstitutional. This decision constitutes a significant erosion of individual freedom and expands the power of the federal government. Obamacare limits state flexibility and fails to make room for free market solutions. It was the wrong law when it was passed and is the wrong law now…. The choice is now with the American people on this issue, and they will have the ultimate say in November.”
John Haupert, CEO, Grady Health System:
“We believe the Supreme Court decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will increase access to health care and ensure people benefit from more primary and preventive care to reduce the number of avoidable emergency department visits and hospitalizations.
The decision will likely result in a rise in demand for health care services among many consumers who have deferred medical treatment because they have had no health insurance….
However, the Affordable Care Act does not address all the fundamental issues confronting health care today. Funding remains a concern, and we must work together with state and county officials to ensure that Grady and other safety-net institutions are financially secure enough to provide access to quality care.”
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia:
“The road to implementing health care reform will be a challenge; however, we look forward to working constructively with policymakers and other key stakeholders to build a health care delivery system that provides security and affordability to all Americans.”
David Hefner, CEO, Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center:
“This decision by the courts allows us to move forward so that we can continue with the business of providing quality health care to Georgia and the Southeast. It is important to note, however, that with this increase of people seeking health care, the impending physician shortage will become a quick reality. Without funding for graduate medical education, we simply will not be able to produce enough doctors for the state of Georgia, which is the 9th-fastest growing state in the country, but ranks 41st in physicians per capita.”
Jon Howell, president, Georgia Health Care Association:
With the constitutional issues surrounding health reform now answered, we hope Congress will shift its attention to tackling the difficult challenge of how to care for a growing elderly population in an era of declining resources.
In Georgia, the shortfall in Medicaid funding for long term care needs reached $53 million and $6.3 billion nationally in 2011. Against a backdrop of rising health care costs, Georgia long term care facilities have also suffered multiple rounds of Medicare cuts and reductions in the last few years. The Georgia Health Care Association supports initiatives that create incentives for quality care and help contain health care costs.’’
Dante McKay, associate policy director, child health, Voices for Georgia’s Children:
“Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act ensures that the gains Georgia has made related to increased health care coverage and access for children will continue – and as the research shows, will likely lead to better health outcomes for children down the road.
As we move ahead on ACA implementation, we look forward to working with lawmakers and state agency executives to ensure Georgia’s children are insured and, just as importantly, receive high quality health care.”
Joseph Parker, president, Georgia Hospital Association:
“The biggest concern that hospitals have regarding today’s decision is the provision that allows states to choose not to participate in the law’s Medicaid expansion efforts. Considering that between 650,000 to 900,000 uninsured Georgians will be eligible to move into Medicaid, it will have far-reaching implications on Georgia health care providers and the state’s 1.9 million uninsured residents if the state chooses to opt out. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and work with the state leadership to better understand the full ramifications of this provision.”
Dr. Sandra Reed, president, Medical Association of Georgia:
“The state is clearly on an unsustainable track, especially when you consider that more than 600,000 additional Georgians may be in line to enter the Medicaid system in Georgia in 2014….Change notwithstanding, physicians are going to continue to be forced to leave the Medicare and Medicaid programs in large numbers or face bankrupting their practices. That means it’s going to become increasingly difficult for our neediest patients to find a physician in their hour of need. What’s been lost in the debate is that just because a patient has a health insurance card doesn’t necessarily mean they will have access to a physician.”
Cindy Zeldin, CEO, Georgians for a Healthy Future:
“Today’s ruling from the United States Supreme Court affirming the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is an exciting victory for Georgia’s health care consumers. When the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, no one in Georgia will be denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition. All Georgians will have a pathway to coverage and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their families are protected.’’
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Georgia):
“It may be constitutional but this massive new federal program does not improve the quality or lower the cost of health care. In fact, it does just the opposite. It will continue to be a drag on the economy as businesses are reluctant to hire new employees until they know all the cost and ramifications of the new mandates Therefore I will work for its repeal and to replace it with reforms that bring down the cost of care without increasing the size of government.’’
U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Georgia):
“With the Supreme Court’s upholding of the health care law, health insurers are still stopped from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, senior citizens’ prescription drug costs have declined significantly, young people still have the ability to stay on their parents’ plan until the age of 26, those with deteriorating health are safe from being dropped by their insurance company, and community health centers can continue to get the funding needed to provide primary care to those who need it. Understanding that this bill is not perfect, I am thankful that my constituents will continue to be benefitted by the continuation of the health care law.”
Julianne Thompson, Tea Party Patriots:
“We’re going to use it as a stepping stone to get Republicans and conservatives elected and get this thing turned around and repeal it.”