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UPDATE: Reaction to Supreme Court's Ruling that Obama Health Law Is Constitutional

Marilyn J. Heine, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED), practicing oncologist and emergency medicine:

More than two years ago when Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Pennsylvania Medical Society stated that it was difficult to speak glowingly or disparagingly of the new law.  Of course, at that time, we knew that there would be a long road of legal challenges ahead before we would actually know what parts of the act would stand.

With the Supreme Court’s decision today, we now have a better understanding of the legality of the act.

In simple terms, the high court has concluded that Congress was acting within its powers under the Constitution when it required most Americans to carry health insurance or pay a penalty.

Just prior to Congress passing the ACA, the Pennsylvania Medical Society adopted eight essential principles of health system reform, among them that health care coverage should be available to all American citizens.  We are pleased that this decision will make health care insurance available to most Americans.

However, it continues not to address two important issues, including medical liability reform and Medicare payment reform.  These two issues have plagued health care in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.  By ignoring these two elements, the ACA is only a partial fix for what ails health care access.”


Jeremy Lazarus, M.D., President, American Medical Association:

“The American Medical Association has long supported health insurance coverage for all, and we are pleased that this decision means millions of Americans can look forward to the coverage they need to get healthy and stay healthy.

The AMA remains committed to working on behalf ofAmerica’s physicians and patients to ensure the law continues to be implemented in ways that support and incentivize better health outcomes and improve the nation’s health care system.

This decision protects important improvements, such as ending coverage denials due to pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps on insurance, and allowing the 2.5 million young adults up to age 26 who gained coverage under the law to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies. The expanded health care coverage upheld by the Supreme Court will allow patients to see their doctors earlier rather than waiting for treatment until they are sicker and care is more expensive. The decision upholds funding for important research on the effectiveness of drugs and treatments and protects expanded coverage for prevention and wellness care, which has already benefited about 54 million Americans.

The health reform law upheld by the Supreme Court simplifies administrative burdens, including streamlining insurance claims, so physicians and their staff can spend more time with patients and less time on paperwork. It protects those in the Medicare ‘donut hole,’ including the 5.1 million Medicare patients who saved significantly on prescription drugs in 2010 and 2011. These important changes have been made while maintaining our American system with both private and public insurers.”


Glen Stream, MD, MBI, President, American Academy of Family Physicians:
“The American Academy of Family Physicians is eager to move forward with needed health system reforms now that the Supreme Court has ruled. As a result, more Americans will have access to meaningful insurance coverage and to the primary care physicians who are key to high quality, affordable health services.
Broad, individual responsibility for health care is the foundation for successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s patient protections. Economic realities dictate that ensuring affordable coverage for all Americans depends on participation of all Americans. The 2001 Institute of Medicine Report, “Coverage Matters — Insurance and Health Care,” confirms that — regardless of their insurance status — virtually all Americans use health care services. Without broad participation in a health care coverage system, health care for all cannot be obtained, let alone sustained.
The Affordable Care Act reduces numerous financial barriers to care, by requiring coverage despite pre-existing conditions, eliminating annual and lifetime limits on benefits, and eliminating cost sharing for preventive services. It recognizes the value of primary care by bringing Medicaid payment for primary care services to Medicare levels.
Equally important, however, are the law’s provisions that will build the primary care workforce to meet patients’ needs. The Supreme Court decision maintains already-launched initiatives that support wider implementation of the patient-centered medical home and that value primary medical care through payment incentives for primary care physicians. Programs such as the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation’s Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative and Medicare’s Primary Care Incentive Payment can continue to foster a financial environment that builds the primary care physician workforce and helps ensure all Americans have access to a patient-centered medical home.
The decision allows investment in primary care education and training with improved support for the Health Professions Grants for Family Medicine, funding for teaching health centers, establishment of the Health Care Workforce Commission, and maintenance of scholarships and loan repayment programs in the National Health Service Corps.
The Affordable Care Act provides a foundation for reforming our health care system, but much work still lies ahead including a permanent replacement for the Sustainable Growth Rate formula and meaningful medical liability reform.
By upholding the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court has ensured that Americans have access to affordable, sustainable health care coverage and that they receive high quality, coordinated and efficient care based on primary care. It is a future that family physicians happily anticipate.”


  1. It is nice to finally have perspective from medical professionals. We continue to hear about this issue from the perspective of the individual but it is just as important to realize how this is going to impact physicians. We have more physician responses to the ACA decisions here: http://ow.ly/bTJ0u

  2. Barring the few technicalities that will complicate the law’s enforcement, this legislation will enable primary care physicians to do their work more effectively and offer greater incentives to remain and prosper in their chosen field of medicine. This will surely be an improvement also for students considering Primary Care but are reluctant to commit because of financial and administrative disadvantages. The Court’s decision today is truly a wonderful thing for the American people.

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