News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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June 29, 2012

Valley split on healthcare ruling

TERRE HAUTE — Denise Sobieski was surprised, yet pleased, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday upholding President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Her husband is a cancer survivor, and she is relieved to know that he would be able to get health insurance even if he changed jobs. She knows others with pre-existing conditions who also will benefit.

But she’s also concerned the Supreme Court decision will be used as a campaign issue against Obama in the presidential election.

People should accept the court’s decision as “democracy at work,” she said. She believes society should work together “to promote the welfare of all of the people and not just the few.”

Sobieski, like many Americans across the nation, closely followed the Supreme Court decision. The court, in a 5-4 ruling, upheld the law, including its much-disputed mandate that almost all people in the U.S. have health coverage or pay a fine.

At Indiana State University’s Hulman Memorial Student Union food court, seniors Nathan Hills and Lucas McDaniel said they supported the court’s decision, but they wonder how the health care law will be funded.

“It’s a great idea,” said McDaniel, who is studying automation and controlled robotics. “Hopefully, it will mean affordable health care for people like me.”

The 27-year-old does not have health insurance because he cannot afford it, he said. He hopes to obtain health insurance after he graduates.

Not everybody was celebrating the court’s decision, including Dr. James Stephens, a Clay County physician. “I’m disappointed. I do think it’s going to be a huge motivational factor for conservatives to try and win the [presidential] election,” he said. “If [Mitt] Romney wins, I think there will be an effort to repeal the law.”

He believes implementation of Obamacare will cost more than has been indicated and will mean higher taxes.

“I don’t think government runs anything very well,” Stephens said. “I think this most important thing should not be left to the control of bureaucrats and bean counters.”

He believes the many new rules and regulations in the law “will paralyze our ability to take care of people, and it will cost untold amounts for compliance.”

In Vigo County, Dr. Randy Stevens, co-medical director of the St. Ann Medical Clinic, believes the Supreme Court decision surprised people.

“Ultimately, what this new law will allow is 30 million more people to be able to have some kind of insurance plan,” he said. “The consequence of it is that all of us will pay more for that, but hopefully the tradeoff will be better health care in the long term for everyone.”

The American Medical Association endorsed the plan, Stevens said. He does know that many physicians are concerned about the cost of implementation “and how much involvement the government will ultimately have in health care delivery.”

Terrie Troxel, who has been executive director of ISU’s Networks Financial Institute, believes that Obamacare “is an overly complicated approach to health care financing reform” that will require “continuous tinkering” to make it work.

He favors other options that include allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines, making health insurance portable from one job to another and tort reform “to get rid of the costs of defensive medicine.”

Bob Guell, ISU economics professor, is critical of Obamacare because “it does nothing substantive to get [health care] costs under control.”

Like many Americans, 51-year-old Lori Wycoff admits she doesn’t fully understand the law. Her big concern is if the law requires people to have health insurance, will they be able to afford it? “If it’s affordable to people, I’d be for it,” she said.

She works part-time at a nursing home and qualifies for the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), a state health insurance program for uninsured adult Hoosiers created by the Indiana General Assembly in 2007.

A Type 2 diabetic, she needs the insurance, she said. “If it wasn’t for HIP, I couldn’t go to the doctor” or pay for medicine because she couldn’t afford it.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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