Local officials react to Obamacare ruling - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local officials react to Obamacare ruling

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)  --  The Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare" has been the center of a heated political debate since 2010, when President Obama first introduced the plan.

Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld it, ruling anyone without insurance by 2014 can be penalized.

"First, it is not a mandate to buy insurance," says Attorney Stuart James. "What happens, lets say you have no health insurance. By 2014 if you don't buy health insurance, what the Supreme Court is saying is that Congress has the power to tax you. So you're going to pay a penalty as the access or a tax."

James says the tax is somewhere around $600 but many felt it would be ruled unconstitutional.

"I was a little surprised they upheld it in the manner they did," says Rae Bond, Executive Director of the Chattanooga, Hamilton County Medical Society. "I sort of anticipated they would throw out the mandate based on the commerce clause."

The commerce clause basically states that Congress cannot force people to buy insurance, but as James pointed out, Congress does have the ability to tax people. However, health officials still have concerns.

"Having insurance doesn't guarantee access to care, because we have physician shortages. We need more health care services available and we have to figure out how to pay for them," says Bond.  

The Supreme Court also ruled the Federal Government will give the states more funding to expand Medicaid. In Tennessee it's Tenncare.

"You can expand Medicaid, but you can't take away what the states already have," explains James.

The Affordable Care Act also lets young adults stay on their parents insurance plan until age 26 and no more restrictions for pre-existing conditions.

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