Hospitals supply the voice of reason

The U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision on Thursday to uphold President Obama's healthcare law shocked conservatives and sent lawmakers, pundits and media networks into a daylong frenzy.

Hospitals, meanwhile, were breathing a sigh of relief.

While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — upheld on a 5-4 vote after conservative Chief Justice John G. Roberts bucked conventional partisan expectations to join his more liberal colleagues to form the majority — has been billed as a major boost for patients, hospitals also stand to gain a lot from the reforms, especially in terms of number of patients.

At its core, the Affordable Care Act will open up the healthcare system to millions of previously uninsured people by making everyone either buy insurance or face paying a fine. Whatever the political tussle over trying to frame that provision as an unconstitutional tax, the fact remains that local hospitals expect to see a lot more people, more often. And they've been preparing.

With that in mind, the round of statements issued on Thursday in support of the Supreme Court ruling shouldn't have surprised anyone.

Yes, local hospitals get more patients as a result of “Obamacare,” but theirs is an argument rooted mostly in making access to healthcare easier and more affordable. Which is why as politicians spent most of Thursday squabbling over the ruling like bands of either spoiled or gloating siblings, the hospital's take was also one more rooted in reason.

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