US & Canada

Voices: Americans react to healthcare ruling

The Supreme Court has upheld President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law. A mother, an ill American, business leaders and policy analysts talk about what the ruling means.

Teri Kepner, mother of an ill son without his own health insurance

Cody is now 24. A couple of years ago his Crohn's disease became active. He became deathly ill. We took him to the ER. The surgeon said yes, he definitely needs surgery.

He was in the hospital for eight days and the bills just racked up. I was able to put him back on my employer's health insurance [because of the Affordable Care Act's provision].

He had no healthcare between the age of 19 and 22, but he did have this chronic illness. Now, we have amazing insurance. People will literally physically be hurt without this healthcare act.

Jamie Richardson, vice-president of fast-food chain White Castle

We've offered health insurance to our team members since 1924 so it's a benefit we believe in, we've invested in. But from an economic point of view, [the Affordable Care Act] is going to incentivise fewer hours per employee in a really difficult cost environment.

With our 10,000 members, we consider 35 hours a week full time. That makes about 52% of our staff eligible for health insurance. [The Affordable Care Act] would consider full time to be 30 hours. We know that expansion of coverage would be dramatic in terms of cost.

I don't doubt the good intentions of those who support the law but the path to get there may be where the differences lie. This puts the burden on employers and it's going to really constrain us to create more jobs and more prosperity.

Elise Gould, liberal think tank Economic Policy Institute

This mattered for people's lives. The mandate provides a necessary safety net for millions of Americans who could not afford healthcare.

I don't think people understand how it can affect them or their neighbours' lives, how hard it is for people trying to get by these days. To have the government step in and bolster an important safety net is really important.

Healthcare cost is one of the leading factors behind bankruptcy. Making sure people have affordable healthcare is going to help families make ends meet.

Dr Scott Gottlieb, resident fellow, American Enterprise Institute

The Obama plan really put the onus on the physician.

Under the rules of the system, the only viable way that [insurance companies] are going to be able to cheapen the coverage is to get control over the doctors. They can't charge more. They can't spend less. They can't deny certain services.

It's going to place a financial burden on [doctors] to try to economise on the use of services rather than economise through the consumer or the government. Which in my view is the worst possible outcome because it's the least transparent to the patient.

Ajit Patel, diabetic

I'm elated that it was upheld. It allows me to get affordable insurance at this point - not just me but everybody that has pre-existing conditions.

I'm self-insured. I'm diabetic but my diabetes is under control. However, in the long-term, you know diabetics will get complications, whether it's eyesight, amputations, kidney problems. I know I'll delay, but I'll probably have that.

I've been hurt with the economy. When I have to put out so much money with medication, hospitalisation, it's a problem.

Tyeis Baker-Baumann, owner of Rebsco, an Ohio design-build firm

We do see this as a tax. There's nothing that I have seen in anything that would suggest that this is actually going to make healthcare more affordable for me, my employees or anybody in my comunity.

What small businesses in particular have been experiencing is an increasing escalation of premiums in order to provide any kind of health insurance for employees. Because I have no faith in the structure in which [the Affordable Care Act] will be executed, I think it will just simply continue to drive up premiums.

As a small-business owner, I anticipate I'll be having to make some difficult decisions over the next few years.

Patrick Griffin, political studies at American University

Opponents have spent millions and millions of dollars making extreme statements. You can move a needle on a public opinion poll if you have a game plan and resources to move the needle in a particular direction.

Most people don't really have a clue about all the pieces of it. The opponents made some wild allegations and the proponents did not efficiently respond. Opponents had been more effective in convincing the public it's a bad bill.

To argue this is some radical intrusion into people's lives is an overstatement. You know the opposition is going to work this. They have no alternative than to continue undermining its value.

More on this story