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'Obamacare' backed by local hospitals

CEO of Glendale Memorial's parent organization says plan will 'finally bring the American healthcare system into the 21st century.'

June 28, 2012|By Jason Wells, jason.wells@latimes.com
  • Glendale Adventist Medical Center Chief Executive Kevin A. Roberts said Thursday's ruling 'should help lower the number of uninsured and increase access to care.'
Glendale Adventist Medical Center Chief Executive Kevin… (Cheryl A. Guerrero…)

Local hospitals on Thursday roundly endorsed the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Obama's Affordable Care Act. With the cloud of uncertainty all but wiped away, representatives said the focus would turn to preparing for the future.

The court ruled 5 to 4 to uphold Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the most contentious issue — the requirement that nearly all Americans have insurance by 2014 or pay a tax penalty.

As Democrats applauded and Republicans bashed the landmark decision, hospitals declared the ruling a victory for patients and expanded access to healthcare.

In a statement issued by Dignity Health — the San Francisco-based parent organization of Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center — Chief Executive Lloyd H. Dean said that while “it is not a perfect bill, the Affordable Care Act does enable us to finally bring the American healthcare system into the 21st century.”

Many hospitals in the region have already been implementing provisions of the healthcare law in preparation for the individual mandate to take effect, which is expected to bring millions of previously uninsured residents into the fold.

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As a result of the Supreme Court's decision, more than 80% of the 2.2 million people who are uninsured in Los Angeles County stand to gain access to affordable insurance coverage, according to the county Department of Health Services.

“I know there are many aspects to healthcare reform — both good and some not so good — but overall, in my opinion, the benefits will in the end outweigh the negatives,” said Len LaBella, chief executive of Verdugo Hills Hospital.

If anything, the high court's ruling gives healthcare providers some measure of assurance that nearly all of the federal law will remain in place, despite vows by Republicans in Congress to repeal the act.

“We can now continue our work to expand care to those in need, knowing the policies are in place that will foster higher quality and lower costs for all,” Mark A. Meyers, president of Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, said in a statement.

But whatever the measure of political certainty afforded by the court's decision, hospital executives warned that the ruling doesn't dull the need to reduce costs of delivering healthcare.

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