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Emotions run gamut after health ruling

Emotions ran high Thursday after the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care plan as constitutional and make it the law of the land.

Ironically, the court’s ruling was based on it being a massive tax hike on Americans.

The court ruled Congress does have the power to require every American to buy health insurance or else pay a penalty in the form of a tax.

At the heart of the health care law is the individual mandate that seeks to cover millions of uninsured.

Judith Miller was one of those uninsured who for decades was unable to get health insurance coverage.

The 64-year-old Peach Street, South Boston woman was overjoyed with the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold nearly all of Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act that will provide insurance for everyone by 2014.

For Miller it is a personal victory.

After being deemed uninsurable for the past 20 years, she believes this new law may keep many people from having to go through what she has during her battles with breast cancer on two different occasions.

Her health problems began two decades ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had no choice but to have a mastectomy.

At that time, she had insurance, but it didn’t cover everything, her husband, Ron, said in a recent interview.

“Then the insurance company cancelled her insurance and left us with a lot of bills to pay. She hasn’t been able to get insurance since,” he said.

An additional pre-existing condition of high blood pressure also has kept her from getting the insurance she needs.

“Even when she worked, she had a hard time getting insurance,” her husband said. “Every time, she was denied insurance at work. Then she got cancer again.”

In 2011 she underwent her second mastectomy without insurance.

“We were just holding our breath and waiting for the health care law to pass,” Miller said.

Under the new health care law, Judith qualified for a Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan.

“You pay a premium and co-pays just like anyone else. You just can’t be denied under the new law,” her husband said explaining what Obama’s health care law has meant to his wife.

“It’s not getting free health care like a lot of people are going around saying. Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling just gives her more peace of mind now,” he added.

Miller said his wife’s coverage under the Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan didn’t deny anything last year when she needed it during and after her mastectomy at Duke Medical Center. 

“It provided for all her medications. For one and a half years since she has had this insurance, they paid for everything without raising an eyebrow,” he added.

Miller encourages anyone who has a pre-existing condition who has been denied insurance coverage to sign up online for the Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan.

“You just have to show proof you have been denied insurance or have a doctor’s statement that you have a pre-existing condition, and the same day you are covered,” Miller said.

“I can’t believe all the misconceptions about the health care plan in general and the Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan specifically,” Miller said. “It’s not free, and taxpayers aren’t paying for it.” 

According to information on the Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan website, the plan covers a broad range of health benefits, including primary and specialty care, hospital care and prescription drugs. 

All covered benefits are available beginning on a person’s coverage effective date, even if it is to treat a pre-existing condition - there are no waiting periods.

“This plan literally saved her life. She has had two surgeries and undergone intense chemotherapy and radiation. We couldn’t have paid for that in a billion years. She would’ve died,” he said. “She had it when she needed it.”

Others don’t share the Millers’ enthusiasm for Obama’s health care law however.

Sen. Frank Ruff Jr. said last week he is very disappointed that the Supreme Court has upheld Obamacare.  

“The court ignored every statement by the president and Democrat Congressional leaders that the individual mandate requiring insurance was not a tax.  The court thus determined that the right to raise this tax was within the realm of the role of Congress.

“Therefore, we must do everything within our power to elect those who do not attempt to mislead the voters by refusing to call a tax a tax.  Instead they hide behind carefully worded misstatements, something each and every one should be offended by,” Ruff added.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling is that conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by George W. Bush, sided with the liberal justices and wrote the majority opinion. 

According to the court ruling, the federal government does have the power to require all Americans to acquire insurance if the “fine” imposed on those who don’t is considered a tax.

As soon as the Supreme Court ruling was announced Thursday, Republicans began demanding repeal of the health care law.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote again to repeal it on July 9.

The outcome of the next election in November is sure to have a major influence on the law, and Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling ensures the issue will remain front and center in both Republican and Democrat campaigns this election season.