The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, which was signed by President Barack Obama in March of 2010. The controversial law, nicknamed "Obamacare" in Washington, requires Americans to purchase health insurance or face a fine from the federal government.
Republicans said the law goes too far. Others said it is a step in the right direction toward universal health care.
Those on both sides of the issue are reacting to the decision, including a resident with a unique background. Dr. Barbara Bellar is a doctor, lawyer and ethics professor, who is currently running on the Republican ticket for the 18th District seat in the Illinois State Senate. She called the Supreme Court's decision Thursday "unbelievable."
"I can only see this making things worse," said Bellar. "As a physician, as an attorney and someone who teaches ethics at two universities, I am very surprised to find the whole thing is intact and found to be constitutional ... we can not mandate every breath of every American."
Bellar said that although she believes every American needs access to health care, she feels health care decisions of Illinois families should not be made in Washington.
"[The Affordable Care Act] is something that should have been handed down for each state to decide," said Bellar. "Health care coverage will become too expensive for many people."
Not all doctors agree with Bellar's sentiment, however. Dr. Keith Veselik, who is the medical director of primary care for the Loyola Health System and also practices internal medicine and pediatrics at the in said he feels costs will come down by requiring more people to have insurance.
"Outcomes have been worse when people have not sought care and then problems are more serious or difficult to treat," said Veselik. "Right now, patients without insurance, they’re either paying out of pocket, part of the bill or not at all. Self-pay patients usually don’t have the money to cover the cost of their hospitaliztion. Hospitals and doctors end up taking a loss on that."
Local folks had some questions and concerns regarding the new law.
Burr Ridge resident Amy Luckett said she feared that wages might go down if employers are forced to pay for healthcare.
"We have insurance through our employer, but the deductables and copays are so outrageous, it's like we don't have anything," said Luckett.
Hinsdale resident Adolph Hrustek said he is against it.
"I think it goes against the constitution to let the government force you to take something against your free will," said Hrustek.
Willowbrook resident Kerry Navins said she is in favor of the law, but is wondering how companies will be able to enforce it.
"How do we make sure insurance companies don't take advantage and skyrocket prices?" asked Navins.
Bellar said that, if elected, she will do everything she can to repeal the law and make sure that it is de-funded.
"This is not fair, because terminations and abortions will be provded for by this. Many Americans would not support that their tax funds be used that way," said Bellar. "[The Affordable Care Act destroys the very core and foundation of our American freedom and is much bigger than it appears."
*Patch will update this story as information becomes available.
* grad Molly Hogan contributed to the reporting of this story.