How the Supreme Court's historic health care ruling impacts Vt
MONTPELIER, Vt. -
It's a decision that had many on Capitol Hill and across the country waiting with bated breath.
"Today is a great day for Vermonters and a great day for Americans," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.
"Today's Supreme Court decision postpones a day of reckoning for Governor Shumlin's Titanic care health care law," said Randy Brock, Republican for Vt. governor.
The high court deemed the Affordable Care Act-- including the individual mandate-- constitutional. This means nothing changes going forward with the implementation of Vermont's health care exchange. Businesses of 50 or fewer will still be required to drop their current plans and buy into a government-approved plan within the exchange by 2014, unless something changes come November.
"In Vermont, at least, we're kind of waiting for the next shoe to drop with November elections," said Jeanne Keller, a health care expert.
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and Vermont gubernatorial hopeful Randy Brock both support repealing health care reform.
"If you don't like the Supreme Court's decision or you don't like the direction we are proceeding, your recourse now is in November," Brock said.
Vermont is counting on $400 million in federal funding to help pay for Green Mountain Care. Shumlin says with rising health care costs the state has no choice but to press forward.
"We're acting like we are not already paying for this. What we're proposing in the Shumlin administration is to pay less for something that we are already paying for right now," Shumlin said.
Perhaps Brock's biggest criticism of the governor is his lack of a backup plan in the event Green Mountain care fails or in the event Congress repeals the health care law.
"If Congress repeals it then we're back to square one, but we haven't really done anything damaging yet," Keller said.
"We have to get this right no matter what happens in D.C. We have to get this done no matter what happens in the election," Shumlin said.
Keller says she expects Supreme Court justices face just as uncertain of a future as health care reform itself.
"Anybody who thinks it doesn't matter-- who is president? Look at the Supreme Court because the president appoints the Supreme Court and we'll probably have in the next term a couple of appointments to be made," Keller said.
The decision also upheld a Medicaid expansion provision which offers additional funding to states willing to expand their Medicaid program to cover more low-income individuals. States can opt to keep their current Medicaid plan in place, which is what the state of Vermont will do. Gov. Shumlin says Vermont's program already meets ACA requirements.
Vermont's Congressional delegation applauded the court's ruling.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, says the decision affirms his belief that: "Congress has the power -- under the Constitution ... to protect Americans from abuses by health insurers -- and to help give all Americans access to affordable health care ..."
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, said, "It is an especially good day for the state of Vermont, which stands to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in additional federal funds to help our state achieve universal health care."
And Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, says he hopes that: "With this landmark decision now behind us, both parties should set political differences aside and make this law work for the American people. It won't be easy, but it's time to get back to work."
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