Area patients and providers react to health care law

The news certainly didn't catch the President and CEO of Saint Francis Medical Center by surprise.
The news certainly didn't catch the President and CEO of Saint Francis Medical Center by surprise.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - In a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Health Care Act is constitutional.

The high court upheld what is known as the individual mandate that virtually all Americans are required to buy health insurance.

Five justices also agreed the penalty for not buying insurance is a kind of tax that congress can impose using its taxing power.

The Supreme Court struck down the part of the law that requires every state to expand its Medicaid coverage.

The law, which would take effect in 2014, would impact more than 50 million people who are currently uninsured.

"Currently I have no health insurance," said Seth Reeves of Cape Girardeau.

Reeves paid for his doctor's visit on Thursday out of his own pocket. He doesn't like the idea of the government getting involved.

"Say I'm not able to afford insurance or they're forcing me or fining me, would put a lot of people in a pinch," said Reeves.

The Supreme Court upheld the heart of the president's health care overhaul ruling in favor of requiring Americans to get health insurance or pay a penalty.

The news certainly didn't catch the President and CEO of Saint Francis Medical Center by surprise.

He's been preparing either way. "I think it's short of it's lofty objectives," said Steven C. Bjelich-President and CEO.

He says a good portion of the bill will be paid for by hospitals.

"It's going to be a further drain on hospital resources," said Bjelich.

Right now about 14% of the patients at Saint Francis do not have insurance.

"We'll have more patients with insurance, but regardless we'll treat them the same," said Bjelich.

He says providers will take a big hit. "There are some benefits, but the costs behind this, the bureaucracy behind this far outweighs the benefits."

You could argue people like Seth Reeves stand to benefit, but he's not a fan.

"It makes me a little edgy," said Reeves.

At Cross Trails Medical Center in Cape Girardeau there is a high number of patients who do not have insurance or are on Medicaid.

The plus: if the number of uninsured goes down, the amount of uncompensated care that the clinic has to incur will also decrease.

However, they do rely on grant money and this may put that in jeopardy.

Another big concern, will there be enough physicians?

"My concern is we don't have enough supply of the primary care providers, and this will create a challenge as we go forward," said Jeff Allen-Cross Trails Medical Center.

What if you already have insurance, you might be wondering if you might get stuck paying more?

Some say, you probably can count on it.

"In my opinion the chance of premiums increasing for those who already have insurance is probably pretty high," said Allen. 

This won't likely be the last time we hear about this law. Expect it to be a real battle this election year.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.