BOSTON Local health care activists celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Obama’s health care law Thursday. The national law is based on Massachusetts’ system that requires all residents to buy health insurance.
It was an unlikely coalition of supporters at the State House: union leaders, hospital administrators, insurance providers, patients and preachers.
“We are elated. We are thrilled. We are ready to sing from the mountain tops with all the prophets of our religious traditions,” said the Rev. Burns Stanfield, who heads the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization and was at the State House for a press conference after the decision was issued.
“Today’s ruling ends the constitutional debate and it should end the rancorous political debate as well,” Stanfield said. “It is time to move forward. Here in Massachusetts we have a good example. Once we passed our own reform we made the move from vigorous debate to vigorous implementation and that’s exactly what we now need in our nation.”
There was lots of extrapolating from the Massachusetts experience. Andrew Dreyfus, the president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, says surveys of the state’s residents show they overwhelming like the state’s health care law.
“And I believe that as people across the country begin to experience the real benefits of extending coverage to the 30 or 40 million people without health insurance, they too will, over time, support our national law in the same way,” he said.
Now that the Massachusetts experiment has been vindicated in federal court, Dreyfus and his coalition say they have the momentum to blaze another trail. It’s not enough to put insurance in the hands of every resident. That insurance has to be affordable.
“And that is the next chapter of health reform in Massachusetts,” Dreyfus said. “And this coalition that is standing together today is as committed to making coverage affordable as we were as to making it accessible.”
The Massachusetts House and Senate have both passed separate bills that would stem the growth of health care costs. They now have to reconcile those two bills and get new legislation to Gov. Deval Patrick by the end of July.