The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Questions still linger after decision
BY JIM HALL
AND LIANA BAYNE
Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision answered many questions about the Affordable Care Act, but also raised others, as the court rejected one of the law’s key features.
The court upheld the bill’s signature requirement that most Americans obtain minimal health insurance coverage.
That brought relief from David Johnson, a Fredericksburg resident, whose aged mother relies on Medicare and Medicaid, the government health insurance programs. Johnson said he feared that the court’s rejection of the act would endanger his mother’s care.
“I was so relieved they didn’t strike it down,” he said.
Dr. Chris Lillis, a Fredericksburg internist and advocate for the bill, termed the court’s decision a “lifeline” for the uninsured and those who have been unable to get insurance because of pre-existing conditions. Both groups are now provided for by the law.
“It’s a great day for America,” Lillis said.
The law also provides for an expansion of Medicaid with 17 million people declared newly eligible under a revision to its eligibility requirements.
These individuals, combined with those who buy insurance under the individual requirement, and those with pre-existing conditions, are a defining feature of the law, said Fred Rankin, president and CEO of Mary Washington Healthcare.
“The law really was a coverage law,” Rankin said. “It was a law to expand coverage.”
This expansion in coverage could reduce what Mary Washington spends on charity and uncompensated care: $36.5 million in 2011.
Once the law is fully implemented, “We’ll probably get paid for services that we’re giving away today,” Rankin said.
But the Supreme Court cast a cloud over the Medicaid expansion. The court ruled that the federal government could not threaten states with the loss of their existing Medicaid funding if they don’t join the expansion.
The federal government will pay all the cost of the expansion for the first three years. After that, states will begin to assume some of the responsibility. By 2020, the federal government will pay 90 percent of the expansion and the states 10 percent.
“The question will be what will Virginia do?” said Karen Dulaney, executive director of the Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic.
Jim Hall: 540/374-5433