Northwest Philadelphia residents and officials react to health care ruling

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold health care reform with a 5-4 vote. Under the individual mandate, nearly all Americans would be required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. 

To get a sense of how local residents are feeling about the ruling, NewsWorks asked community members of Northwest Philadelphia to tell us what they think of the news. Of the small selection we reached out to today, the response was mainly positive. But there is a substantial amount of opposition coming from other groups such as the Independence Hall Tea Party Association, the National Retail Federation, and others. 

According to an earlier NewsWorks article, Tea Party member Michael Johns said he believes “the Supreme Court of the United States has solidified the anger of the American people about the intrusion of this federal government into liberties.” He goes on to say, “That clearly will ensure that in November, Barack Obama is removed from office.” 

The people we talked to in Northwest Philadelphia had a different take on the decision. 

John Churchville, president of the Germantown Business Association, said in terms of penalties, the mandate that penalizes Americans if they choose not to get heath care makes sense.

“If I am able to buy health care for myself and family and I refuse to do so, it makes sense that I don’t automatically default to the Medicaid system if I could have bought it but refused to,” said Churchville. “Now, if I can’t afford to buy health insurance, I am not penalized.”

He maintained that the law ultimately would help the entire nation by providing more benefits and protection against insurance companies as well as create an increase in employment in the health care industry and promote healthier lifestyles throughout the nation.

“The fact that there a lot of residents in this area who are unemployed and don’t have health care, I think it will definitely affect us in a positive manner,” said Lisa Hopkins, community organizer at Northwest Neighbors.

Hopkins is among the nation’s uninsured population and hopes that this ruling will provide her with some assistance in addition to some of the neediest populations, such as senior citizens and children.

She believes that it’s a family’s personal choice to decide to buy health care, especially if they choose not to take advantage of it for religious reasons.

Stan Shapiro, second vice chair at Neighborhood Networks, said that the ruling is a positive, adding that it will enable millions of people to get health care who otherwise wouldn’t.

“It’s unconscionable that people should have to suffer from bad health when there is no medical reason that they need to and the only reason is that we have a system which denies them health care in the richest country in the world,” said Shapiro. 

In a statement issued a few hours after the announcement, Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., Philadelphia City Council’s Majority Leader representing the city’s fourth district, called the news a victory for the nation, the city and the fourth district. 

“This means that the uninsured, underinsured, young adults, people with pre-existing conditions, and older Americans will have access to quality healthcare; and not have to trade-off between textbooks, baby formula, food, heating and shelter for health.” 

He went on to say “This means that we will all be able to stand a little taller, breathe a little deeper, and do the work of making our City great, without fear of getting ill.” 

Peter Adamo, Roxborough Hospital’s new Chief Executive Officer, sent NewsWorks this statement in response to the ruling: 

“While none of us can reliably predict exactly how all of this new legislation will change the landscape of health care, all of us in the field hope that the new financing model will encourage earlier intervention at all income levels to improve outcomes while helping providers survive in communities with large numbers of patients who were formerly unfunded.”

What do you think of the Supreme Court’s decision? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below. 

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