By JC Reindl
Hartford – The Supreme Court’s health care ruling was cause for jubilation among many of the state government officials working in and around the Capitol.
“This is a gigantic win for the people of Connecticut,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who had warned that $100 million and coverage for 500,000 residents was at stake. “If the whole law had been struck, lots of things that we now take for granted would have been lost.”
The high court decision prompted a celebratory gathering in the Capitol complex of more than a dozen Connecticut labor and advocacy groups, led by the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care.
“Maybe instead of Obamacare, we should call it Obama cares,” said Bette Marafino, vice president of the 53,000-member Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans.
Representatives of Connecticut’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women cheered how the Affordable Care Act, beginning in 2014, will outlaw “gender rating,” the industry practice of charging women higher health insurance premiums than men.
Official State Healthcare Advocate Victoria Velti said she welcomes the court’s decision, and cited several provisions within the Affordable Care Act that are or will soon benefit Connecticut residents, such as prohibitions against denying coverage for pre-existing medical conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents health insurance policies up to age 26. “These are substantial reforms that have already yielded tremendous results for consumers,” Velti said in a statement.
From Washington, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the court’s decision preserves patient protection rights and ensures access for millions of middle-class families to more affordable and quality health care.
“Connecticut is a clear winner,” Blumenthal said. “Already Connecticut has received tens of millions of dollars from the federal government to cover families on Medicaid, funds to combat fraud and waste and grants to scrutinize unreasonable premiums.”
But Republicans weren’t so cheery.
Andrew Roraback, a state senator from Goshen and a 5th District candidate for Congress, was disappointed in the ruling.
“We as a state and as a nation will be better served if we go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan that is workable and affordable,” the Republican said.
For state Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, co-chair of the legislature’s Public Health Committee, the ruling means Connecticut can continue with its progress toward opening access to health care.
“Words cannot express how delighted and pleased I am by the Supreme Court’s ruling,” Ritter said.
Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, also was pleased.
“As co-chair of the children’s committee, there are so many things that I see where the lack of health care leads to horrible outcomes.”
Outside of government, Tony Sheridan, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, said the chamber favors most components of the Affordable Care Act and believes that a national health care system would ultimately help to make the state’s export firms more competitive overseas. Those Connecticut-made products are in competition with those of companies that enjoy lower cost structures for being based in nations with universal health care.
“They don’t have the cost of benefits inserted in the products they’re selling,” Sheridan said.
The eastern Connecticut chamber is not a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has opposed the Affordable Care Act. “We feel they’ve been overly zealous in putting out the negative rather than looking at it in a more balanced manner,” Sheridan said.