Health care mandate is still divisive issue

affordable care act

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Leigh Greene has been helping people in Mahoning and Trumbull counties explore health care plans.

And she said for many of those people, insurance plans of the past were too expensive.

“So now, buying into the marketplace and it having a base, they were able to pick from a couple different plans and actually find something that was affordable for them,” Greene, the city of Youngstown’s Minority Health Director, said.

Statements from the Valley’s representatives in Washington show how divided people are on the Supreme Court’s decision upholding President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Republican congressman Bill Johnson opposed the ruling, saying “Because of the law’s individual mandate, millions of Americans have been forced to buy health care with benefits that they may not want and may not need.”

But Democratic congressman Tim Ryan applauded the court, saying “The Affordable Care Act ensures that everyone in the United States has the right to access affordable, quality health coverage.”

“Tens of thousands of people in the Mahoning Valley and all over Ohio, 160,000 in all, can breathe easier because the court refused to raise their taxes,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said.

The agency Access Health Mahoning Valley said they personally signed up 848 people last year through the Marketplace. And they hope to continue getting people insured.

“There are still a lot of people that are out there that are not covered. So that’s our job, to get that word out in our communities and find people that still don’t know about Access Health,” Youngstown Health Commissioner Erin Bishop said.

Advocates for the Affordable Care Act cheered when the ruling came down on Thursday. Since it became law in 2010, Republicans in Congress have tried 58 times to repeal it without success.

Some business owners say Republicans should change their focus from repealing the entire act to just making some changes.

“We want Congress to turn its attention to repealing the 40 percent excise tax and the employer mandate along with all of the reporting mandates that are unnecessary and burdensome and do nothing to improve the quality of care or cost of coverage for our employees,” Annette Guarisco Fildes of the Erisa Industry Committee said.

ValleyCare Health System of Ohio applauded the Supreme Court ruling. The health care provider, which operates Northside Medical Center, Trumbull Memorial Hospital and Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital, said without the law, hospitals would be responsible for even higher amounts of charity and uncompensated care. Valley Care already provides $5 million in uncompensated care each year, according to a news release from the hospital.

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