The Latest: Hospital stocks rise in response to court ruling

AP News
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Posted: Jun 25, 2015 2:21 PM
The Latest: Hospital stocks rise in response to court ruling

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Supreme Court's decision on President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. (All times Eastern)

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2 p.m.

Investors in hospital stocks are rejoicing now that the Supreme Court has eliminated the prospect of a sudden influx of uninsured patients seeking care.

Shares of big hospital operators like HCA Holdings, Tenet Healthcare and Community Health Systems all jumped much higher than the broader market after the court upheld tax subsidies that help millions of Americans pay for health insurance.

Investors were worried that many patients would drop coverage if they no longer had the help.

Uninsured patients can leave hospitals stuck with bills that never get paid in full or at all.

Health care stocks have bounced up and down over the years as the health insurance overhaul was debated, passed and enacted.

The insurance carrier Aetna says the ruling means consumers who get private insurance through the federal marketplace can count on the assistance and are assured benefits will not be interrupted.

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1:50 p.m.

Republican leaders seem to have their heels dug in against the health law despite a Supreme Court decision keeping it intact.

President Barack Obama may believe the law is "here to stay." But House Speaker John Boehner vows, "the struggle will continue."

How it will continue, though, is not clear.

The speaker says Republican leaders have not decided whether to use special budget rules to try to repeal the law.

Nor is he committing to a vote this year on a plan to replace Obama's law if it does manage to be repealed.

Boehner says generally, though, that Republicans will do everything possible to put "people back in charge of their own health care and not the federal government."

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1:20 p.m.

Health insurance subsidies for more than 6.4 million people were at stake in the Supreme Court case. Those subsidies can continue, due to Thursday's ruling.

Here's a look at the impact in a sampling of states:

In Pennsylvania, about 382,000 people get to keep their insurance subsidies. The state was putting a contingency plan together in case the subsidies were struck down, but doesn't need it now.

In Illinois, more than 230,000 people could have lost subsidies, averaging $211 a month. In Missouri, nearly 200,000 people will keep their cheaper coverage.

In Wyoming, where more than 18,000 people had selected an insurance plan from the federal marketplace, an estimated 96 percent of them are getting subsidies. And the average subsidy in that state is $425 a month.

In Ohio, some people whose subsidies are saved by the decision broke into tears of relief.

Just over 160,000 Ohioans were at risk of losing the assistance. But the Republican governor, John Kasich, has voiced disappointment. Kasich, who's considering running for president, says the health law has driven up health costs overall for individuals and small business.

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12:20 p.m.

The Supreme Court ruling on the health law comes as a huge relief for 55-year-old Shawn Turner of Cisco in central Illinois. She finished chemotherapy for uterine cancer last summer and now has regular follow-up scans to make sure the cancer is gone.

She and her husband pay $236 a month for health coverage and the government pays the insurance company $830 a month. Such subsidies were at the heart of the Supreme Court case, and the justices ruled that they can continue.

Altogether, Blue Cross Blue Shield has covered more than $265,000 in medical bills for Turner.

She says: "I'm just so relieved and happy not just for me but for everyone who's being helped by this."

The fear of cancer returning would have kept the couple from dropping coverage, even without subsidies.

But now, Turner says, they don't have to take money from savings or retirement, or sell possessions.

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12:10 p.m.

The Supreme Court's decision affirming a major part of the health care law has at least one upside for the law's Republican opponents.

They can keep using the law's existence to raise money for their campaigns.

Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush says Thursday's ruling "is not the end of the fight against Obamacare." Bush says that, if elected, he'd work with Congress to repeal the law and replace it with a conservative alternative.

In an email to supporters, Bush goes on. He says, "That is why I need you to make a one-time emergency contribution of $50, $25 or $10 to my campaign."

A May 2014 study by the nonpartisan advertising tracker Kantar Media CMAG estimated that $445 million had been spent on political TV ads mentioning the Affordable Care Act since it was enacted in 2010.

Negative ads swamped positive ones by more than 15 to 1.

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Noon

The Supreme Court's decision favoring the health care law appears to be in keeping with public opinion.

Polls taken before Thursday's ruling suggested that most Americans wanted the court to side with the government on whether the feds can continue to subsidize insurance premiums in all 50 states.

In an April Associated Press-GfK poll, 56 percent preferred that the court rule in favor of the Obama administration, while 39 percent wanted the court to rule for the other side.

But nearly half of Americans were not too confident or not confident at all that the Supreme Court could rule objectively in the case.

Siding with the government in the case doesn't mean universal love for the law, by a long stretch.

In general, the April AP-GfK poll found that 27 percent of Americans supported and 38 percent opposed the 2010 health care law, while 34 percent were neither in favor nor opposed.

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11:45 a.m.

President Barack Obama says his signature health care law "is here to stay."

Obama is speaking in the Rose Garden shortly after the Supreme Court upheld the nationwide tax subsidies under the health overhaul. The ruling preserves health insurance for millions of Americans.

The president noted the multiple challenges to the law, both in Congress and the courts. But he says the law is no longer about politics, but is about the benefits it is having on extending coverage to Americans and making health insurance more affordable.

Obama says that while there is still work to be done to make health care in the U.S. better, "this law is working."

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11:40 a.m.

If you thought the legal fight over the health care overhaul is finally over, think again.

At least four issues related to the law are still being sorted out in the courts. None, though, seems to pose the same threat as the challenge to nationwide health plan subsidies that the Supreme Court now has rejected.

Among pending lawsuits: House Republicans are challenging some $175 billion the administration is paying health insurance companies over a decade to reimburse them for offering lowered rates for poor people. The House argues that Congress never specifically appropriated that money.

As well, dozens of religiously affiliated institutions do not like compromises the administration has put forward to allow women covered under these institutions' health plans to obtain contraceptives at no extra cost, while respecting religious objections to providing contraceptives.

Four federal appeals courts have sided with the administration on this issue, but other cases are pending and Catholic organizations in Pennsylvania have asked the Supreme Court to decide the matter.

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11:30 a.m.

Several Republican candidates for president are trying to use the Supreme Court decision on the health care law as a conservative rallying cry heading into the 2016 elections.

Minutes after the ruling, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham predicted health care would now be the "most dominant issue in the country" for candidates running for seats in Congress and the White House.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he remains committed to repealing and replacing the law.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he agrees with the dissent of Justice Antonin Scalia. Christie says the majority decision "turns common language on its head" and shows that leaders must turn their attention to replacing the law.

Republicans used the unpopularity of the health care law among conservatives to rally them to the polls in both the 2012 and 2014 elections.

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11:10 am.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is embracing the Supreme Court's decision in favor of President Barack Obama's health care law.

The Democratic candidate for president tweets that the court "affirms what we know is true in our hearts & under the law: Health insurance should be affordable & available to all."

Clinton later posted an old photograph of her hugging Obama, calling it a "great day." The Twitter link directs supporters to Clinton's campaign website and encourages them to provide their email address and zip code to "Stand with Hillary for health care."

Clinton has said fixes should be made to the law where necessary, but it's succeeding in expanding health care coverage to millions more people.

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10:58 a.m.

The Republican candidates for president have started to weigh in on the Supreme Court's decision to uphold a key part of President Barack Obama's health care law.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry turned the ruling into a selling point for his potential turn in the White House. He says Thursday it's not up to the Supreme Court to knock down a law deeply unpopular among many in the GOP.

He says, quote, "We need leadership that understands a heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all policy does nothing to help health outcomes for Americans."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee calls the ruling judicial tyranny.

He says, quote, "The Supreme Court cannot legislate from the bench, ignore the Constitution and pass a multi-trillion dollar 'fix' to Obamacare simply because Congress misread what states would actually do."

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10:45 a.m.

President Barack Obama is set to make a Rose Garden appearance at the White House to talk about his big win in the Supreme Court on health care.

The president is scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m. EDT on Thursday. He quickly scrambled his schedule after the Supreme Court ruling was announced.

The court upheld the nationwide tax subsidies contained in the health care law in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans.

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10:40 a.m.

Senate Democrats have a simple message for Republican foes of the President Barack Obama's health care overhaul after the Supreme Court latest ruling: It's over.

Speaking on the Senate floor minutes after Thursday's ruling to uphold a key portion of the law was announced, Minority Leader Harry Reid says, quote, "Enough's enough. Let's move on."

The Nevada Democrat was one of the party leaders who worked to ensure passage of the law in 2010. He says Republicans should stop wasting time with votes to repeal the law, which now exceed 50.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate. He says in a statement, quote, "Memo to the non-stop critics of the Affordable Care Act: stop trying to kill this program and work to make it stronger."

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10:35 a.m.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has a new name for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul: "SCOTUScare."

Scalia summarized from the bench his dissent to the Supreme Court's Thursday ruling to uphold the law's nationwide tax subsidies. He says, quote, "We should start calling this law SCOTUScare."

The conservative justice used the acronym for the Supreme Court. He says his colleagues have twice stepped in to save the law from what Scalia considered worthy challenges.

The court upheld the law in 2012.

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10:30 a.m.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is cheering the Supreme Court's decision to uphold a key portion of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

The California Democrat was instrumental in getting the law passed in 2010.

In a statement, she says, quote, "Today, for the second time, the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act. This is a victory for common sense and for all American families. It is long past time for Republicans to abandon their assault on the newfound health security that the Affordable Care Act is providing millions and millions of Americans across the country."

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10:22 a.m.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has again voted with his liberal colleagues to uphold a key portion of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

Roberts also was the key vote to uphold the law in 2012. Justice Anthony Kennedy was a dissenter in 2012, but was part of the majority on Thursday.

Roberts says in the majority opinion, quote, "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them."

Nationally, 10.2 million people have signed up for health insurance under the Obama health overhaul. That includes the 8.7 million people who are receiving an average subsidy of $272 a month to help pay their insurance premiums.

Of those receiving subsidies, 6.4 million people were at risk of losing that aid because they live in states that did not set up their own health insurance exchanges.

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10:12 a.m.

The Supreme Court has upheld the nationwide tax subsidies under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans.

The justices said in a 6-3 ruling Thursday that the subsidies that 8.7 million people currently receive to make insurance affordable do not depend on where they live, under the 2010 health care law.

The outcome is the second major victory for Obama in politically charged Supreme Court tests of his most significant domestic achievement.

Chief Justice John Roberts again voted with his liberal colleagues in support of the law. Roberts also was the key vote to uphold the law in 2012.

Justice Anthony Kennedy also voted with his more liberal colleagues.