(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday that the Affordable Care Act, with its individual mandate, is constitutional has elicited a wide range of opinions from across the medical community.
Most major national medical organizations — including the American Medical Association, the National Physicians Alliance, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Association of American Medical Colleges — hail the ruling as a victory. Many of these organizations have been strong supporters of the ACA since Congress passed it in 2010.
“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,” said Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, president of the American Medical Association.
“At last, the country is moving in a healthy direction on health care,” said Dr. Valier Arkoosh, president of the National Physicians Alliance.
However, a handful of medical organizations are not as enthusiastic.
“We cannot overlook provisions like the Independent Payment Advisory Board that threaten the doctor-patient relationship and the administrative burdens within the law that could greatly hinder providers’ ability to deliver quality care by infringing upon exam room time,” said Dr. John Tongue, president of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
“We are concerned that there are key aspects to this law that will, ultimately, hurt this nation’s ability to provide widespread are for its citizens,” the American Urological Association, the American Association of Clinical Urologists, and the Large Urology Group Practice Association said in a joint statement.
The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the individual mandate, which states that all Americans must have health insurance or else pay a fine. The Court stated that the fine is essentially a tax, giving the government the right to impose it. However, the Court limited the law’s ability to expand Medicaid, deciding that the U.S. government cannot withhold a state’s Medicaid money if the state doesn’t want to participate in the expansion.
The ACA, initially passed through Congress in 2010, could potentially cover more than 30 million people who are currently uninsured in the United States.
The law also has support from a wide range of patient advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society, the National Organization for Rare Diseases, the American Heart Association, Consumer Reports, and the March of Dimes.
The parts of the law that have already been implemented will not be changed. Thus, children can stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26, and patients will not have to provide co-payments for preventive care. However, the key piece of the law — the individual mandate — will not commence until 2014.
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