Southwest Brooklyn reacts to health care act green light

The Supreme Court declared the affordable health care act constitutional on June 28, making health insurance available for all Americans by 2014.

“With this historic ruling behind us, we can hopefully begin to close the health care disparities that exist everywhere, but particularly in Brooklyn, where a study commissioned by my office on the racial, ethnic, socio-economic and health status of our residents led to the creation of the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center with SUNY Downstate,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz.

“There is absolutely no excuse for Americans having to do without life-sustaining medications and medical procedures while we rely on an existing system that simply hasn’t worked,” the borough president went on. “The high court’s ruling today allows us to try something new, and provide quality, affordable health care for all Americans for generations to come.”

The affordable health care act was praised by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Councilmember Jumaane Williams, Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Assemblymember Rhoda Jacobs and U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand among others.

Brooklynite Colleen Berga was among them. “I suffer from asthma, and without healthcare, the cost of my medications is extremely high,” Berga said.“I work 10-hour days, just to make sure my daughter has everything she needs, but if she catches a cold and needs to visit the pediatrician, the unexpected out-of-pocket costs pose a definite financial burden. The court’s ruling means my daughter and I can to visit the doctor without having to choose between getting the care we need, and making sure our monthly bills are paid.”

Pamela Brier, president and chief executive of Maimonides Medical Center said that the Supreme Court’s decision was good news. “Bringing health coverage to the 32 million uninsured Americans is so important that hospitals across the country agreed to collectively accept $155 billion in cuts over the next ten years,” she said. “The ACA includes seed money to hospitals for implementing innovative ideas to improve care and reduce costs. At Maimonides, we have been collaborating with other health care providers to better manage care, keeping patients out of hospitals and ERs. This won’t be easy, but making health care affordable is the right thing to do.”

“It’s really great news for American families,” said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services. She noted that since the affordable health care act was introduced in 2009, more than 5.2 million seniors have saved $600 each on their prescriptions, 3.1 million young adults have been insured and 100 million Americans with Medicare and Medicaid are now receiving preventive services, such as mammograms.

“Our ultimate goal is to insure that in 2014, those looking for health insurance will find something [they can afford],” Sebelius explained. “We can’t go back to the day when insurance companies operate without accountability. Today’s announcement is helping us get closer.”

But Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis was among those who slammed the Supreme Court decision.

“Today’s ruling sets a dangerous precedent for the power of the federal government. By requiring everyone to purchase health insurance, we have taken another step toward socialism and rationed healthcare, which begs the question of what else the federal government can require citizens to purchase,” Malliotakis said. “Additionally, I have serious concerns about the effect this will have on the middle class considering the unsustainable debt the federal government has already handed down to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

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