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Supreme Court health care ruling: Advocates praise it, tout Colorado reforms

Categories: Politics

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Big news today for Barack Obama and, you know, tens of millions of Americans across the country: The Supreme Court of the United States has finally issued its ruling on the Affordable Care Act, essentially deciding to keep most of it intact. And advocates in Colorado are cheering the news, saying it affirms the state's ongoing efforts to reform health care.

This decision is significant for a lot of reasons -- including that it is an important victory for Obama as he campaigns for re-election, and for Democrats in Congress. But for activists in Colorado, the ruling on the measure, popularly dubbed Obamacare, means that thousands of families across the state will have access to affordable, quality health care.

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Barack Obama.
Supporters of the law were also quick to point out that Colorado has been a leader in health care reform and has already taken significant steps in moving forward with aspects of Obama's overhauled health care plan. While anticipation of the court's ruling has cast some uncertainty over the Affordable Care Act, it has in fact been the law since it was signed by the president, and local advocates celebrating the decision today noted that Colorado has not wasted time pushing forward with reforms.

"People are going to be looking to Colorado as a model for implementing the law, because we have been doing these things," said Melissa Hart, director of the Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law at the University of Colorado. "One of the things that in some ways is most wonderful about this decision is that it will allow people to stop dragging their feet and start working on how to implement it."

For those who haven't been following closely, the ruling basically upheld the "individual mandate" that requires nearly all Americans to get health insurance, by arguing that it falls unders Congress' taxing power. Today's decision did, however, put restrictions on the expansion of Medicaid.

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The logo for Thanks Obamacare!
Experts with whom we spoke argue that Colorado has already taken important steps in health care reform, including expanding Medicaid, and that puts it in a good position to capitalize on the Affordable Care Act. The state has also been a leader in passing bipartisan legislation to create an exchange -- essentially a health care market place where consumers can purchase insurance. On the private side, Colorado has also started implementing consumer protections regulations that align with Obama's plan.

"In Colorado, we've been moving forward with implementation regardless of the Supreme Court," says Serena Woods director of strategic engagement of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. "There's no longer going to be any doubt. We are going to be able to continue to expand access."

Woods, who is also behind the local website ThanksObamacare.org, aimed at spreading the word about the positive impacts of Obama's plan, admits that it would have been a difficult and complicated process to respond if the Supreme Court had ruled differently or got rid of the individual mandate.

"Luckily, I don't have to think about that," she says, adding that as "various pieces of the law continue...to affect people's lives, it will also help people in understanding why this law really is an amazing thing."

To see how Colorado compares to other states and why in some areas it is leading the way, check out interactive maps at statereform.org and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Page down to read more local reactions as well as statistics on how Colorado is specifically impacted by this decision.



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