DeKALB – Shirley Hill saw Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act as a small victory.
Finding assistance in covering medical costs has been a challenge for the 55-year-old DeKalb resident, who said she was forced to retire because of her illness. The pre-exisiting condition has made it difficult for her to find insurance coverage and doctors willing to accept the reimbursement levels.
But the Court's 5-4 decision that supported President Barack Obama's mandate for all individuals to have insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty could be a small step forward, Hill said.
"Just give us a chance to pay what we can," Hill said. "I never took a dime of welfare in my life, but I'll have no choice if I can't get insurance."
Hill said she still had concerns about doctors' willingness to accept some patients and hoped the Affordable Care Act would address some of those issues when it is fully implemented in 2014.
Not everyone was as pleased with the decision as Hill.
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Manteno who is running for the 16th Congressional District, said he was disappointed by the Supreme Court's ruling, but that he also respected it.
“I am glad that the court recognized that Congress does not have the power to do anything they want and everything they want,” Kinzinger said.
Wanda Rohl, Kinzinger's Democractic opponent in the upcoming race for the 16th Congressional seat, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
With the individual mandate now being upheld as a tax, Kinzinger said it goes against what President Obama and Democrats said about the ACA when they were pushing for its passage. Those failing to purchase health insurance would pay a penalty equal to 1 percent of their income in the first year, 2 percent in 2015 and 2.5 percent in 2016.
“The Supreme Court called the health care law a tax on the American people,” Kinzinger said. “President Obama came in saying this is not a tax.”
Kinzinger acknowledged that the Supreme Court ruling was a blow to efforts to have it repealed, but said it would not stop him and others from trying to do so.
Kinzinger said there are other ways to bring about health care reform, including allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines and let workers keep their health insurance as they move from job to job.
Jim Lehan, business director for local pharmacy Lehan Drugs, said he was neutral on the decision as it would take time to see the affects.
On one hand, he said the increased pool of insured patients could help, but it could also mean a cut in reimbursements to the company as the federal government may have a harder time managing the larger amount of insured people.
"Any type of mandate to offer insurance could have negative consequence on businesses," Lehan said. "It's still to be seen."
• David Thomas contributed to this story.
• CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger's name.