UPDATE: Joe Thompson, AHA, Other Health Care Professionals React to Ruling

by Mark Carter and Mark Friedman  on Thursday, Jun. 28, 2012 3:45 pm  

Joe Thompson, Arkansas surgeon general

Tim Johnsen, president of Mercy Hot Springs (formerly St. Joseph's Mercy Health System), said the ruling serves as validation. Capella Healthcare is in the process of buying Mercy's Hot Springs hospital. It already owns National Park Medical Center in the city.


"We've been preparing for and pursuing necessary reforms for many years," he said. "We look forward to working with Capella, as well as state and federal government leaders, to continue building and implementing a new system of care in Hot Springs that preserves health care for the most vulnerable members of our society."

Max Greenwood, spokesperson for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, said the state's largest private insurer was still studying the full ruling and its impact. She said Blue Cross already had implemented many of the law's applicable provisions.

John Robbins Jr. of Little Rock health-care software solutions provider Data Path said that whichever way the court ruled, the fight over health care and how to deliver it was bound to drag on. He expects a host of repeal efforts to fill the next few weeks.

Whatever happens, Robbins said his company prefers a more consumer-based delivery model for health care than what is currently available.

One of his biggest concerns is the so-called "Cadillac tax" provision of the law that remains intact. He said it will raise the premium thresholds for health-care plans eligible for taxation. It is scheduled to take effect in 2018, and Robbins believes that facet of the law will affect almost everyone.

Cunningham said AHA was "still trying to grapple" with the decision and its overall impact.

"Obviously, if you don't expand Medicaid then it limits accessibility insurance for a lot of low-income adults who still won't be able to afford it even going through the exchange," he said. "That means there still will be a significant number of uninsured people showing up in hospital emergency rooms, so in that regard it's a bit of a disappointment."

He said the law was never going to cover everybody anyway.

"But by striking the Medicaid expansion part of the law, I think you leave more people uninsured than would have happened otherwise," he said.

Cunningham said the Arkansas Hospital Association is still trying to digest the implications of the ruling. Other than that Medicaid portion, hospitals were moving toward complying with the law, he said.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.