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Health care ruling pleases many in Alle-Kiski Valley

| Thursday, June 28, 2012, 9:23 p.m.

David Dillon is a casualty of a struggling economy, but the Supreme Court on Thursday made his day.

A cable TV technician from Harrison who has been unemployed for nearly a year, Dillon, 40, was happy to hear that the court upheld the federal Affordable Care Act -- known as Obamacare to its opponents -- in a 5-4 vote.

"My personal opinion is that if it is going to be a nationwide coverage, then I am all for it," Dillon said. "I've been without insurance for quite a while now. I've been unemployed for about 10 months and ever since I've been unemployed, I can't afford it."

He said that his wife, who works at Wal-Mart, has insurance for herself and their youngest of four children. But it doesn't cover him or their other three children.

Cost is a factor. He said it costs her about $5,000 to $6,000 a year for the family's limited coverage, and she earns only about $25,000 a year.

"That's a big plus for me," Dillon said. "If they are going to help me afford health insurance, then I am all for it. We're supposed to be the top dog among all countries, so why shouldn't everybody have health insurance?"

Dillon was among a number of shoppers interviewed outside the Giant Eagle supermarket in New Kensington a couple of hours after the decision was announced.

The Affordable Care Act is a health care law that aims to improve the health care system in the United States by increasing access to coverage for Americans and introducing new protections for people who have health insurance.

That's how the law is described by the website, which is sponsored by a group of organizations that includes AARP and the American Medical Association and others that represent consumers, patients, physicians, nurses, hospitals and pharmacists.

The majority of Alle-Kiski Valley residents who were interviewed Thursday expressed support for the Supreme Court's decision and the law.

One person who opposed the ruling was Ryan Brown, 28, of New Kensington,

"I dislike it," Brown said. "I just think that health care should not be provided by the government."

But Brad Schmidt of Lower Burrell, who said he is in his 50s, disagrees.

"There shouldn't be an instance where anyone should worry about having to go to the doctor or having health care coverage," Schmidt said. "Take it out of taxes or whatever. Americans need health care."

"I think there are people who are not getting the health care they deserve because they don't have enough money or they don't have the right plan," said Mary Theresa Muto, 59, a teacher from Cheswick.

She said it was important for the court to uphold most of the law.

In particular, Muto said she was worried about people with pre-existing conditions being covered because there are people in that situation within her family.

Muto also disputes the fears that the law's opponents tried to create by calling the law "socialized medicine" and spreading stories about such systems in countries like Canada not providing good care.

"I have relatives in England and Canada who have had serious medical problems who needed long-term care, and I've never heard them complain about it," Muto said. "I don't think that is going to be the case. I just think all Americans are going to get the health care they deserve."

Raymone Thomas, 28, a nurse from New Kensington said she is not well versed on the law.

"But I am an Obama supporter, and I will say that it's a shame that all Americans don't have health care like other countries do," she said. "I am happy with it. I think that's what we need."

Debbie Sigmund, 54, of Springdale said, "I guess I feel that everyone should have hospitalization, or at least the right to hospitalization."

Referring to the changes the law will make to the health care system, she said, "I think a lot of these things are good things."

In particular, Sigmund said she likes the fact that the law allows her son, a recent University of Pittsburgh graduate, to remain on her health care insurance until he finds permanent employment.

Frank Boris, 79, of Arnold said he lost his health insurance coverage years ago when he was laid off but was able to be taken care of through the Veterans Administration health care system.

But his wife is a different story.

"My wife has to pay for her own health insurance," Boris said. "She has to pay $600 for three months. But when you only get $400 a month in Social Security, that amounts to half each month."

"I think it's great," he said of the ruling. "It's about time they do something for some people.

"It's probably going to make it cheaper for us senior citizens."

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