Local Nonprofits, Health Officers React to Health Care Ruling
In Baltimore County, there are mixed reactions to the Supreme Court ruling.
Baltimore-area hospital CEOs and health care providers sounded off on the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Health Care Act.
"I'll be honest. My initial reaction was kind of shock because I didn't expect that the entire act would be upheld, but I was incredibly pleased, because I am an absolute believer that we must redesign our health care system," said Dr. John Chessare, president of GBMC HealthCare. "It is letting down the American people."
Chessare detailed what the decision means for Greater Baltimore Medical Center in a post on the hospital's blog. Chessare worked in Massachusetts during then-Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign for a similar bill on the state level and said he was "proud" of Romney's work there, saying it reduced costs for small businesses.
In a press conference today, Romney argued that the federal law is "bad policy," ABC News reports.
"I don't quite understand why he is stepping away from the wonderful work he did in Massachusetts," Chessare said. "The solution of leaving the present system intact and somehow coming up with a miracle plan for people to pay for care is very silly."
Jeff Richardson, executive director of Mosaic Community Services, was in Washington, D.C. at a conference on behavoiral health services a few blocks away from the Supreme Court.
"It was pretty wild," Richardson said of the atmosphere in Washington Thursday morning. "People were either excited or terrified."
Mosaic provides mental health and addiction services to people throughout Baltimore City and Baltimore County.
What the bill did for their organization is to help make their services more accessible to people who don't have insurance.
Many of Mosaic's clients do not have insurance, so they would be seeking treatment in hospitals, or would not be receiving proper treatment, he said.
"We're paying for these services in one way or another," he said. "They're ending up emergency rooms or prison and just costing us money elsewhere."
The law also elevated mental health services to the same level as other health services. Currently an insurance provider will typically charge a person on an increasing sliding scale the more often they seek mental health treatment such as therapy. This is different from costs for visits to a primary care physician, because the basic cost of a co-pay does not increase for the number of visits.
Richardson said he is glad the law is providing parity between types of health services.
"Your brain is a part of your body and a vital organ that should be treated the same as every other part of your body," he said.
Officials from organizations that aim to serve Baltimore County's less fortunate population cheered the Supreme Court's decision.
"I believe that that a sign of a great society is how well it takes care of individuals [compared to] how people take care of themselves," said Ed Hartman, executive director of Reisterstown's Community Crisis Center. Hartman said this is only his opinion, and not an official position of the center, which helps needy Northwest Baltimore County residents with food, medical and financial assistance.
"In terms of a trickle up effect, with everybody having some means of health care, it will hold down the cost for those fortunate enough to have it," he said.
The executive director of Jewish Community Services, which provides counseling, career assistance, monetary and food assistance to local residents, said her organization always supports legislation that helps people access services they need.
"We have seen the positive impact of the Affordable Care Act, including seniors benefiting from the improvement in coverage for their prescription medications and young adults being to remain on their parents’ health care plans," said JCS Executive Director Barbara Levy Gradet via email. "It is vital for our government to make it possible for people to access health care services."