On Thursday, some of the state's Republican lawmakers blasted the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act, while others see the bill as a number of inevitable provisions their organizations are prepared to follow.
U.S. Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Howard, expressed disappointment in the court ruling.
"The Affordable Care Act remains a very flawed piece of legislation and is unsustainable," he said. "It's not a question of constitutionality, but of good public policy."
Thompson said extending health insurance to more Americans is fine, but at what cost?
He noted that Medical Assistance only pays a portion of the health care costs of hospitals and doctors.
"I would argue this does not improve access to care," he added.
While positive changes in health care are needed, they won't happen through the Affordable Care Act, he said.
Thompson, who voted against the measure when it came before Congress, predicted lawmakers will continue to look for ways to reform it.
"This is a bill that needs to be repealed," he said.
Jersey Shore Hospital President and CEO Carey Plummer said the Affordable Care Act may help relieve hospitals of some of their debts.
On the other hand, Medical Assistance to hospitals and doctors continues to decrease and is not expected to go up.
Perhaps the best news for hospitals is that otherwise uninsured individuals coming to emergency rooms for medical care now will be covered.
"We have been preparing for it (Affordable Care Act)," he said. "If it had been ruled unconstitutional, everything we have been working for would have been turned upside down. Whether we support 'Obamacare' is a completely different question."
Kim Kockler, vice president of government affairs with Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, said that with the court decision, the Wilkes-Barre-based health insurer now can move forward.
"I would not characterize it (the ruling) as a like or dislike," she said.
Kockler said it's difficult to know if the mandates will mean higher costs for consumers.
It will work, she said, as an incentive to get more people insured.
"This act does little to control costs, but it does improve access," she added.
Thompson said, to its credit, the Affordable Care Act does prevent people with pre-existing medical conditions from being denied coverage. In addition, it allows uninsured members of families to be included on their parents' health care plans up to the age of 26.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, issued the following statement on the ruling:
"The fact that this law was upheld means that Pennsylvanians will not lose their coverage due to pre-existing conditions, young adults will be allowed coverage under a parent's plan and older Americans will not have to face dramatic increases in prescription drug costs," he said. "I will continue to work with other senators to make improvements to the legislation.
"Further, there is no doubt that we still confront significant challenges to reducing the cost of healthcare,"?Casey's statement read, "and the only way to address these in the long run is for Democrats and Republicans to work together."
U.S. Rep. Thomas Marino, R-Cogan Station, said Congress needs to work toward a repeal.
"The simple truth is that President Obama, his liberal allies in Congress and the special interest groups who wrote 'Obamacare' brought us to this point by ignoring the will of the American people and the principles on which our nation was founded," he said as part of a prepared statement. " 'Obamacare' puts our nation on exactly the wrong path. Instead of making health care more affordable, it increases health care costs for families and small businesses. Instead of making quality health care more accessible, it threatens an individual's ability to keep employer-sponsored insurance coverage. Instead of making sure health decisions can be made by doctors and patients, it gives government bureaucrats control over our entire health care system. And, instead of controlling out-of-control federal spending, it will add up to $530 billion to the federal debt over 10 years."
He could not be reached for further comment.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, expressed disappointment in the ruling.
"The Supreme Court's decision doesn't change the fact that President Obama's health care law is a terrible policy that will impose new taxes, increase the cost of health care and cost our country jobs," he said. "It is now up to Congress to repeal 'Obamacare' and enact common-sense reforms that will expand access to affordable, quality health care."
Charles Santangelo, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Susquehanna Health, noted the Affordable Care Act has its benefits.
He said the health system, comprised of Williamsport Regional Medical Center and Divine and Muncy Valley hospitals, supports "efforts and policies that reduce the number of uninsured individuals and improve quality."
"Toward that end, upholding the mandate that requires all Americans to buy health insurance, or pay an imposed tax, may result in lowering our bad debt costs, which for Susquehanna Health totals over $20 million," he said "Bad debt results from uninsured and underinsured individuals who are not able to pay their healthcare bills and do not qualify for private or government programs coverage.
Through the Affordable Care Act, more individuals will be insured, which strengthens our long-term financial viability," Santangelo said.
Thompson, a former health system employee, said the Affordable Care Act fails to fulfill four principal tenets that he feels should be part of any health care plan: affordability, patient access, quality care and patient choice.