The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the federal law known as the Affordable Care Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010. This includes the mandate that virtually all Americans will be required to buy health insurance.
In a 5-4 decision on Thursday, the five justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he chooses not to buy health insurance is a type of tax. According to the ruling, those who do not comply with the mandate to purchase health insurance by 2014 must make a “shared responsibility payment” to the Internal Revenue Service along with their taxes.
The Act does prohibit the IRS from using “several of its normal enforcement tools” such as criminal prosecutions and levies.
Reaction from representatives in the business and medical community in Tyler has been varied this morning.
Tom Mullins, president and chief executive officer of the Tyler Economic Development Council and the Tyler Chamber of Commerce said at least now business owners “know which way to jump.” Many businesses could decide to expand or add people, he said.
“Many have not added employees because they did not know what the outcome would be,” Mullins said this morning. He said he thinks the decision to uphold the law will contribute to the costs of running a business.
Some people may not be happy with decision, he said, and may postpone making any decisions about their businesses until after the fall presidential election.
“The economy has been gaining slowly, some small businesses saying they may need more people, and the decision may force them to delay hiring people because of the cost involved,” Mullins said.
He said the issue has been very polarizing, and he thinks that the people who don’t like the law will find ways to change it.
“It will be interesting to see how the stock market reacts,” Mullins said.
Bill Hammond, president and Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Association of Business, echoes Mullins’ statements about possible job loss as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision. He said in a prepared statement on Thursday that he is disappointed that the U.S Supreme Court had upheld the law, especially as it maintained the individual mandate.
“The business community has always been very concerned about the cost of the law, the economic effect it will have on the country when fully implemented, and the effect on employees trying to navigate a complicated and confusing system,” Hammond said.
Hammond added that unless Congress replaces the plan with something more workable, “we will see many jobs lost and many businesses that offer insurance to their employees now will drop that coverage.”
There is still time for Congress to change the law before the full implementation in 2014, Hammond said.
“We will be working hard to make sure that happens,” he said.
In a released statement on Thursday morning, John Moore of Trinity Mother Frances Hospital said that the national debate on health care has highlighted a need for health care organizations to “focus intently on quality and value.”
Mother Frances, he said has already been working hard to solving many of the issues that the reform has tried to address by providing integrated health care providers. An example includes the adoption of the Medical Home model, which incorporates the patient, their family, primary care physician and specialists, Moore said.