Here are comments from Kansas politician and health officials on Thursday’s ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a key pillar of the Affordable Care Act – the subsidies made available through the federal insurance marketplace:
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.): “The Supreme Court’s decision today does not take away from the fact the Obamacare is fundamentally broken and that the administration has recklessly implemented this law, damaging our health care system as a whole and jeopardizing Kansans’ health care. Every day Obamacare continues to hurt millions — just last week the administration released the proposed premium increases for 2016, rising to as high as 38 percent for some in Kansas. Doctors are becoming increasingly unavailable to their patients, and employers continue to cut jobs and hours. I will continue to fight for real reforms to our health care system that lower costs, lift the burden on our job creators, and restore the all-important relationship between a doctor and their patient. We don’t need to fix Obamacare, we need to fix health care.”
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.): “Without the Supreme Court to bail out Congress, it is now time to act. For four years, we have waited, begged and pleaded for Republican leadership to allow us to debate and pass a patient-centered replacement. Now is the time to act — now is the time to keep our word to the American people. After 58 votes to repeal Obamacare in part or in whole, I call on our Republican leadership to use reconciliation to put a full repeal of ObamaCare on the president’s desk.”
Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.): “Today’s disappointing decision does not change the hardships that folks around Kansas and across the nation are facing as they continue to deal with the uncertainty and failed promises of the president’s broken health care law. While the health care delivery system had problems prior to the President’s health care law, under his fundamentally flawed law it is still not working and remains just as burdensome, confusing, and expensive as the day it came into existence. I remain committed to fixing this mess and implementing better health care solutions that lower costs and empower patients to choose the care that’s right for them.”
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) via Topeka Capital-Journal’s Jonathan Shorman: “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is very disappointing and blatantly ignores the language of the law. Kansans will continue to suffer higher health care costs, including insurance premium increases of more than 30 percent. We are hopeful that Congress and President Obama’s administration will provide states the needed flexibility in finding Kansas solutions to our health care challenges.”
Brenda Sharpe, president and CEO of REACH Healthcare Foundation in Merriam: “The United States Supreme Court’s ruling means that 70,000 residents in the Kansas City metropolitan area who qualified for tax credits to purchase health coverage will continue to receive that financial assistance, enabling them to maintain coverage for themselves and their families. These federal subsidies have helped thousands of Kansas and Missouri residents obtain health insurance — many for the first time. Having insurance opens the door to affordable, dependable health care, which benefits hardworking people and their families, and contributes to community health overall.”
Bridget McCandless, president and CEO of Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City: “We are pleased by today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court to uphold subsidies for health insurance purchased through federally-run marketplaces, including in Kansas and Missouri. This decision means that the 70,000 residents of the Kansas City area who rely on the tax subsidies to help pay for their health insurance can continue their coverage and access vital health care services at affordable costs. In the last enrollment period, 90 percent of Missouri marketplace enrollees qualified for premium tax credits to lower their costs, which lowered the average premium payment from $363 to $85 per month. Similarly, 82 percent of Kansas marketplace enrollees qualified for premium tax credits to lower their costs, which lowered the average premium payment from $301 to $90.
“We know that people without health insurance tend to delay treatment or don’t get diagnosed with health problems until the condition is severe, which often requires more expensive interventions. Without this help the cost of insurance would become unaffordable and could result in many people dropping their coverage. We celebrate today’s decision and the reassurance that many hardworking members of our community can now take the worry of health insurance off their plate.”
Steve Coen, president and CEO of the Kansas Health Foundation in Wichita: “The Kansas Health Foundation’s mission is to improve the health of Kansans, and we’re supportive of the United States Supreme Court ruling in King v. Burwell to continue federal subsidies for health insurance plans. With this ruling, nearly 70,000 Kansans who rely on tax subsidies to help pay for their health insurance will be able to keep their plans and not face losing coverage. Now is the time for our state Legislature to move forward and expand Medicaid in Kansas so an additional 150,000 people can receive health care coverage.”
— The Kansas Health Foundation is the primary funder of the Kansas Health Institute, which is the parent organization of the editorially independent KHI News Service.