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What The Supreme Court’s Health Care Decision Means For San Diego

Professor Glenn Smith of California Western School of Law and Gregory Knoll of the Legal Aid Society and Consumer Center for Health Education explain the Supreme Court's decision to uphold Obama's health reform law as a form of tax, and what the decision means for the 515,000 San Diegans who don't have insurance.

GUESTS:

Glenn Smith, Professor of Law, California Western School of Law

Gary Rotto, Director of Health Policy Council of Community Clinics San Diego,

Gregory Knoll, executive director Consumer Center for Health Education and Advocacy,

Kenny Goldberg KPBS Medical Reporter

Transcript

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday that left many of the elements of the Affordable Health Care intact also removed enforcement mechanisms, so the impact of the decision is unclear, a San Diego State University professor said.

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Uninsured In San Diego County

Uninsured In San Diego County

Analysis of regional health insurance data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2010 American Community Survey

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"It's unclear what impact the decision is really going to have,'' said Professor Robert Seidman, an expert in the economics of health care.

He said the objectives of President Barack Obama's overhaul of the nation's health care system, including the so-called "individual mandate'' to make people purchase insurance coverage, might be difficult to achieve if there is no enforcement.

"So is it really a mandate? It is a mandate in words only,'' Seidman said.

San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council CEO Lorena Gonzalez applauded the ruling.

"In the face of intense pressure from corporate special interests, we can now move forward with ensuring that every American has access to affordable health care, strengthening our families, our businesses and our communities,'' Gonzalez said. "This is a critical opportunity to provide local families more purchasing power and affirm that lack of access to health care will no longer be a barrier to success.''

Two Republican members of San Diego's congressional delegation issued statements ripping the ruling.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, said "Obamacare'' will do "great harm'' to the country by imposing new taxes, burying job creators in red tape and saddling future generations with debt they can't afford.

"In selling Obamacare, congressional Democrats and President Obama assured the American people that it was not a tax,'' Issa said. "Today, the

Supreme Court ruled it was, in fact, a tax -- this tax was imposed on the American people amidst an extended recession and is one of the many reasons our economy remains stagnant under President Obama's leadership.''

House Republicans will continue efforts to dismantle and de-fund the act, he said.

Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, said America cannot afford the health care program.

"Since its passage, the cost to implement the president's plan has doubled,'' Bilbray said. "The rising cost of health care is making it harder for small business to hire workers.''

He said the ruling upheld the law as constitutional but does not address rising costs.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders declined to comment.

Not a single Republican voted in support of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, including San Diego congressman Brian Bilbray (R - 50th District). Bilbray tells KPBS' "Evening Edition" that he's concerned about the high cost of President Barack Obama's health reform law. Bilbray says he wouldn't vote to repeal it, however, in part because his own daughter is being treated for cancer and benefits from some parts of the law.

KPBS Midday Edition intern Acacia Squires contributed to this segment

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