UPDATED 06/28/12 – 4:49 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — The U.S. Supreme Court essentially upheld President Barack Obama’s health care plan Thursday, and Illinois political leaders and think tanks are alternately calling the ruling a guarantee for better health care, or a destructive stress on the economy.
Lynne Kelly, who needs expensive drugs to treat her multiple sclerosis, told CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley the ruling means she no longer has to worry about becoming uninsurable due to a pre-existing condition.
“When the change comes in, I will have some more peace of mind that my insurance will not go away, simply because I have multiple sclerosis,” she said.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports
Catholic lay minister Tom Cordaro said, because of the health care law, his daughter Angela can remain on his insurance plan.
“We’re like most people, we live from paycheck to paycheck. A serious illness that Angela maybe incurred, or an injury, would probably destroy us if we had to cover that out of pocket,” he said.
Eliminating pre-existing conditions as a barrier to coverage, and allowing parents to carry young adults up to age 26 on their insurance policies are two of the most popular elements of the law.
The Supreme Court’s decision means both provisions will now remain in place, but opponents still promise to overturn it in Congress.
As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, some critics also have argued that small business owners would suffer in particular from the health care reform law, due to prohibitive new expenses and regulations.
Many critics, including the head of the Illinois Policy Institute, are arguing that the decision has now given the government essentially unfettered power over citizen lives.
Illinois Policy Institute chief executive officer John Tillman calls the Affordable Health Care Act the greatest encroachment on liberty in generations.
“It allows the federal government now to use the power of taxation to regulate any private behavior or lack of behavior,” Tillman said. “What this really means is that they can use taxes to tell you want to do, where to do, how to do it, and who to do it with.”
The National Federation of Independent Businesses said the health care law would be sure to result in companies closing down and jobs being lost. The Illinois chapter of the organization also characterized the law as a federal overreach.
“The tragedy in this ruling is that Illinois residents are now at the mercy of politicians from other states and bureaucrats in Washington whose decisions won’t be based on what is best for Illinois,” federation state director Kim Clarke Maisch said in a news release. “Small businesses here will be overwhelmed by mandates, taxes and burdens imposed on them by people whom we cannot as easily hold accountable.”
The Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank, called on Congress to repeal health care reform and replace it with a system that “puts patients first.”
“For evidence of how ObamaCare will fail, look no further than Illinois’ Medicaid program. This broken program already fails to meet the needs of Illinois’ most vulnerable. Chicago children with throat cancer have only a one-in-three chance of seeing a specialist while on Medicaid (according to the New England Journal of Medicine),” the institute said.
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady echoed the sentiment that health care reform would destroy jobs and lead to runaway spending.
“ObamaCare will lead to the implosion of our health care system, an explosion of our national debt and economic uncertainty for millions of job creators,” Brady said in the release. “This comes as no surprise since Barack Obama spent his formative political years in Springfield being trained by Illinois Democrats like Michael Madigan, who through years of mismanagement, have led Illinois to having the worst budget deficit, credit rating, pension debt and business climate in the nation.”
Illinois Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) said health care reform will “drive up health care costs and put yet another financial burden on our already struggling small businesses. “
U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) expressed disappointment that what she called “government overreach” survived a Supreme Court challenge, but called on a bipartisan effort to “fix polices that are raising costs, hurting job creation, siphoning millions from Medicare, and placing an added layer of bureaucracy between patients and their doctors. “
And another opponent, the Stand up for Religious Freedom Coalition, expressed disappointment that the health care reform law was not struck down because it would have eliminated the Health and Human Services mandate that requires employers either to cover birth control or allow the federal government to do so.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports
But one small business owner, Ann Battenfield, says she is thrilled by the decision. She says she had been uninsurable due to a preexisting condition until the Obama plan started, and she would have been uninsurable again if the plan had been struck down.
“I think it was the right decision. I’m sure other people disagree. But as a business owner, and as somebody who works with people all the time, I don’t see how we can have a healthy economy if we have sick people who aren’t taken care of,” Battenfield said.
Also coming out I support of the law was U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), who said the decision means Americans will no longer be left in the cold when they are in need of health care.
“An insurance company can no longer deny coverage to the 17 million children with a preexisting condition.,” Quigley said in a release. “Seniors no longer have to choose between paying the rent or buying their prescriptions. And college students will no longer lose their insurance on graduation day. It is our responsibility to provide access to affordable health care to Americans, and today’s victory should bring peace of mind to families across our country.”
Echoing Quigley, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said the law could save lives.
“For Latino families, for Chicago families, and for all families, the extension of coverage to young adults, the eventual extension of coverage to people who cannot afford care, and the security that will be built into our health care system are life changing and tremendously helpful,” he said in a release. “This will literally help people live who before this law, if they were sick and couldn’t afford care or couldn’t switch health policies, were sentenced to death or poverty or both.”
Meanwhile, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in accordance with the decision, the county Health and Hospitals System will seek a waiver for federal reimbursement for tens of thousands of patients who will now have access to Medicaid over the law.
The American Medical Association and the Illinois Hospitals Association also came out in favor of the law. The AMA said the law would benefit both doctors and patients.
“The health reform law upheld by the Supreme Court simplifies administrative burdens, including streamlining insurance claims, so physicians and their staff can spend more time with patients and less time on paperwork,” the AMA said in a release “It protects those in the Medicare ‘donut hole,’ including the 5.1 million Medicare patients who saved significantly on prescription drugs in 2010 and 2011. These important changes have been made while maintaining our American system with both private and public insurers.”
The Illinois Hospitals Association echoed the argument that the law protects people from being denied coverage.
“Strong communities start with healthy communities. Because of this legislation, people in Illinois will no longer have a diminished quality of life, be at risk of dying merely because they lack health insurance, or be forced into bankruptcy because of a devastating diagnosis,” the Illinois Hospitals Association said in and release.