Affordable Care Act's effects on Hawaii - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Affordable Care Act's effects on Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

We wanted to know how Hawaii is specifically affected by today's high court decision on the Affordable Care Act - and how folks here feel about it.

One-third of the 10,000 patients who use Kokua Kalihi Valley community health center each year either don't have insurance or are underinsured. So, the Supreme Court's ruling came as welcome news.

"More of our patients and our clients will be able to qualify for insurance under the new health exchange," explains the center's Maternal Child Health Director, Doris Segal Matsunaga.

For Segal-Matsunaga, it's also personal. Her 22 year old daughter is insured on her health plan, and overturning the law would have left her without coverage. "If, God forbid, she were to get into an accident and she were to need serious care, my family, like all families, would do whatever it took, and those kind of medical bills can bankrupt a family."

Since Obamacare became law in March 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says at least 6,000 young adults in Hawaii - under age 26 and without their own job-based insurance - have gained coverage on their parents' plans.

Also, as of April of this year, DHHS says 107 previously uninsured Hawaii residents – who were locked out of coverage because of pre-existing conditions - are now insured. And Hawaii's Medicare patients have saved almost $15 million on prescription drugs.

But not everyone is cheering, and the ruling is a bitter pill for some to swallow. A CBS News poll taken earlier this month found nearly seven in 10 Americans wanted the High Court to strike down all of the law or at least the individual mandate.

"I was really disappointed." Lauren Berghell volunteers with Hawaii's Republican party. The 27 year old doesn't feel the government should force healthcare on people. "It's only constitutional if the mandate is ruled as a tax, and if you recall, a couple of years ago in 2009, Obama declared that this was not a tax, in any way, absolutely not a tax, and lo and behold, it really is a tax," says Berghell.

While this is a big victory for President Obama, Berghell says it's also energized opponents to vote for Mitt Romney.

For more specific details on how the Affordable Care Act affects Hawaii, head to the DHHS website, heathcare.gov.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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