Politics & Government
8:03 am
Fri June 29, 2012

North Carolina Reacts to Healthcare Ruling

The Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Obama's healthcare overhaul sparked a range of reactions across North Carolina.

Tanner Latham: A rally to celebrate the Supreme Court's decision on Obama's healthcare law was held Thursday at Gaffney Health Services on Albemarle Road in East Charlotte.

Here's a sampling of those reactions.  In order, you'll hear from Leslie Boyd from Asheville, whose son did not have insurance when he died of colon cancer in 2008.  Then Zaina Alsous, who is a senior at UNC Chapel Hill.  And, finally, Ross Walker, Jr. of Charlotte, who is 88 years old.

Leslie Boyd: This is just huge. 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.  I can't bring my boy back but at least someone else won't lose theirs.

Zaina Alsous: 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: I was glad, I was glad, I was glad, because this is something they have fought so hard for throughout the years, throughout the years. 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 healthcare law, will lead to an influx of patients that can strain the healthcare system.

Joseph Piemont: I know that the challenge is to us to do more with the resources that we're provided with. We need to be innovative, we need to be creative, and we need to lead the process through.

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.

Barbara Morales-Burke: The Affordable Care Act does a lot to expand access to health insurance, and that's great. 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 healthcare law.

Gregg Thompson: Small businesses are very fragile in this state and across this country. They are just hanging on by a thread.

Thompson says that this will stunt small business growth. That the employers mandated to provide health insurance will think twice about hiring additional employees. Or, when faced with rising healthcare costs, will lay employees off.

Gregg Thompson: This is just one more - possibly one more nail in the coffin for some small businesses.

The one thing everyone can agree on is that this decision is a continuation of the healthcare debate, not the end.