Local Reaction To The Health Care Act
As expected, there were a variety of reactions yesterday in the state to the health care decision. WFAE's Tanner Latham surveyed the different perspectives in this report. A rally to celebrate the Supreme Court's decision on Obama's health care law was held Thursday at Gaffney Health Services on Albemarle Road in east Charlotte. Here's a sampling of those reactions: Leslie Boyd of Asheville carries a picture of her son Mike Danforth. She says Danforth could not obtain health insurance because of a preexisting birth defect and that he passed away in 2008 of colon cancer. Photo: Tanner Latham Leslie Boyd from Asheville had a son who did not have insurance when he died of colon cancer in 2008. "This is just huge," she says. "And it's too late to save my son, but somebody else's kid is going to be saved because of this. And that makes me feel a whole lot better." Zaina Alsous is a senior at UNC Chapel Hill, and she says, "Having to pay my housing bills, my car bills, my loan repayments, it's just one less thing off my plate, and I'm really grateful for that." Ross Walker, Jr. who is 88 years old and lives in Charlotte was happy about the decision. "I was glad, I was glad, I was glad, because this is something they have fought so hard for throughout the years," he says. "And everybody said it wouldn't happen, and it did happen." We also spoke with Joseph Piemont, the COO of Carolinas Healthcare System. He says he is concerned that the broadening of Medicaid, which is a part of the health care law, will lead to an influx of patients that can strain the health care system. "I know that the challenge is to us to do more with the resources that we're provided with," says Piemont. "We need to be innovative, we need to be creative, and we need to lead the process through." Ross Walker, Jr. is 88 years old and lives in Charlotte. He attended the rally to celebrate the Supreme Court's decision. Photo: Tanner Latham Because the mandate says that each person must be covered, insurance companies will likely be some of the biggest winners. BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina is the largest provider in the state. Barbara Morales-Burke is the Vice President of Health Policy. While she wouldn't say whether or not this ruling is what the company was hoping for, she did offer this: "The Affordable Care Act does a lot to expand access to health insurance, and that's great," she says. "But it doesn't do a lot to address the cost of medical care, which is the primary driver of health insurance. Now that we know the law does stand, our primary focus is finding ways to address that affordability issue - the cost of health care." Gregg Thompson is clearly disappointed in the ruling. He is the North Carolina state director of the National Federation of Independent Business. The organization had joined the lawsuit brought on by the 26 states to repeal the health care law. "Small businesses are very fragile in this state and across this country," he says. "They are just hanging on by a thread." Thompson says that this will stunt small business growth. And that the employers mandated to provide health insurance will think twice about hiring additional employees. Or, when faced with rising health care costs, small business owners will lay employees off. "This is just one more, possibly one more nail in the coffin for some small businesses," he says. The one thing everyone can agree on is that this decision is a continuation of the health care debate, not the end.