Supreme Court health care decision draws GOP scrutiny


Presidential candidate Mitt Romney says the high court's decision has injected a greater urgency in the race for the White House. He told donors in New York City on Friday that there's only one way to ensure that the health care law he calls "Obamacare" will be repealed: defeat President Barack Obama in November.

Romney says many people assumed the court would "do the work that was necessary" in repealing the law. But he says the court "didn't get that job done."

The high court's decision caught many Americans by surprise, and now many are starting to figure out how Mr. Obama's health care law will impact their lives.

For starters, the law is expected to provide health insurance to about 30 million of the estimated 50 million Americans without health insurance.

So how will it work? Starting in 2014, if you refuse to purchase health insurance and if you don't get it from your employer, you'll owe the IRS $95 or $285 for your entire family. But by 2016, those penalties go up significantly. An adult would owe $695 or $2,085 for an entire family.

So starting in October 2013, uninsured Americans will be able to sign up for taxpayer-subsidized coverage, either through private insurance plans or the Medicaid health care program. Coverage would begin on Jan. 1, 2014.

Read the Supreme Court's full decision on the health care law

Insurance companies will not be able to turn down people with pre-existing conditions. Children will be able to stay on their parents' insurance plans until they are 26, and there will be no limits on how much policies can pay out.

For some local families, the Supreme Court's decision was very welcome news.

"I think there's ups and downs to both sides of the coin there, but definitely for the people that don't have insurance, I think it's a thumbs up," said Alex Zamora, a Glendale resident.

But not everyone is thrilled with the ruling. Small businesses say this will impact their bottom line, because companies with 50 or more employees will be required to provide insurance or pay a fine. Also, some medical professionals worry that the health care system will be overwhelmed by an influx of new patients.

"If you have a system where you're not paying your primary care physicians well, then guess what? You're probably not going to have very good service either," said Dr. Manuel Momjian.

Some doctors, on the other hand, believe the ruling will have positive consequences.

"It's going to bolster my relationship with my patients because it's not going to allow the adversarial relationship where patients withhold things that are important for their health care for fear of being billed or not being able to afford what the treatment is," said Dr. Sherell Mason with Total Health Care.

Read public officials' statements on the Supreme Court's health care decision

Now, the battle over health care reform returns to Congress. Republicans will vote in July to repeal the legislation - a vote that will likely fail in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Meantime, California stands to receive as much as $15 billion a year to extend coverage to the uninsured starting in 2014.

California has nearly seven million uninsured - that's about 20 percent of the population.

Under the new federal law, about four million Californians are expected to obtain new or improved coverage over the next seven years. Nearly half would be covered through an expansion of Medi-Cal and another two million are expected to purchase private policies with federal subsidies.

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