Carroll County health leaders say that Thursday morning's Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction toward fixing the broken healthcare system in America.
"As a health care leader I obviously support every American having access to health care insurance," said Carroll Hospital Center President and CEO John Sernulka. "The way I view it, the original law and now reaffirmation by the Supreme Court is a major catalyst towards recognizing that the health care system in America is too costly and is too fragmented and is not working."
Sernulka said that the law could bring an additional 30 million Americans into the health care fold.
In a 5-4 opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the majority of the court rejected arguments that the law violated the Constitution's interstate commerce clause.
Roberts wrote that the federal government "does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance" but that it did "have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance.
Sernulka said that although it has created tensions, the health care law has forced people to talk about the issue and to change the status quo.
"The health care issue has mobilized providers, payers, and the government to recognize that we have to work as a unified group to deal with the rising cost of healthcare, the lack of access, and it’s made it a priority for the nation to deal with," Sernulka said.
Westminster City Council member and pediatrician Dr. Robert Wack said that he was surprised by the Supreme Court's decision, but pleased.
"The law isn't perfect, but it's a necessary, although painful, step toward starting the process of fixing our collapsing health care system," Wack said. "It's only the beginning of many very big changes to every aspect of the health care system."
Sernulka said that even if the Supreme Court had overturned the law, that what is important is that Americans are talking about the issue and interested in making the system better.
"What this health care discussion has done is bring attention to all these issues and for the first time I feel that we’re really going to make progress in redesigning the health sytem in America," Sernulka said.
Sernulka said he understands that some are concerned about the economics of the health care mandate.
"There are 31 million individuals that will now have insurance and there is no doubt that they will begin to access the system much more frequently," Sernulka said. "There is a fear that the costs will skyrocket and add to the increasing deficit."
But Sernulka said that is one of the very reasons that change needs to happen in the health care system.
"[It is] critical now that we’ve solved the issue of insuring most Americans, we need to find a way to treat them in a more cost effective way," Sernulka said.