The Supreme Court's decision upholding the federal health care plan means that 4.5 million more people will have health insurance in California. Local experts explain how the sweeping law will affect California, which stands to gane $9.5 billion per year in federal money to pay for health programs. Conan Nolan reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on June 28, 2012.
The Supreme Court's decision upholding the federal health care plan means that 4.5 million more people will have health insurance in California.
In addition, the state stands to gain $9.5 billion per year in federal assistance to pay for health programs.
"The law is sweeping, and has a wide range of impacts," said Marian Mulkey, director of the Health Reform and Public Programs initiative at the California Healthcare Foundation.
Justices issued their ruling Thursday morning, upholding the individual mandate requiring people to buy health insurance.
The court said the mandate couldn’t be upheld under the commerce clause, but said it could be upheld under existing tax authority, NBC News reported.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, Americans must purchase health insurance or pay a penalty - $95 per individual to $285 per family or one percent of their annual income, whatever is greater. The penalty will be paid to the government in the same way federal income taxes are paid and collected, the opinion read.
While the White House has said it was confident the court will uphold the law, GOP Congressional leaders vowed to repeal “what’s left of it” after the justices announce their ruling.
California has been a model for the federal health care overhaul since the law's passage and has begun implementing parts of it already, including the beginnings of health care exchanges. The exchanges that would provide a marketplace for consumers to purchase insurance policies, starting in 2014.
The state also has banned insurers from refusing coverage for children with pre-existing illnesses and allowed young adults to stay on their parents' plans through age 26.
California passed its own state legislation to ensure those measures would be preserved even if the federal law was thrown out. There are 7.2 million uninsured California residents, according to statistics compiled by the Associated Press.
The decision is a victory for LA County's uninsured, according to the health services department.
"As a result of today's decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), over 80 percent of the 2.2 million people who are currently uninsured in Los Angeles County stand to gain access to affordable insurance coverage,'' Director Dr. Mitchell Katz said in a statement.
Women across the Southland lauded the court's decision, which officials say will increase women's access to healthcare and preventative services, such as mammograms and birth control.
"It's a miracle," said Maria Perez, an uninsured mother.
Women often pay higher health insurance premiums than their male counterparts and pregnancy can be listed as a pre-existing condition.
"For women, it means they’re not going to be discriminated against because they get to have babies. They’re gonna be able to pay the same amount in health care coverage as anybody else; as their male counterparts," said Laphonza Bulter, with SEIU United Long Term Care Workers.
SoCal physcian Dr. Edgar Chavez said the change means fear of a hefty bill will no longer be something to keep women from preventative care.
"They'll be more willing to come get a pap smear, come get checked out for mammograms or even start prenatal care earlier," Chavez said.
The ruling also drew reaction from California's largest nurses' union.
"This not just an abstract legal decision," said Barbara Blake, secretary-treasurer of United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals, in a statement. "Real lives and the heartbreak of real families will be saved because of it."