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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Millions of Angelenos joined insurers across California in cheering the Supreme Court decision on Wednesday to uphold most of President Obama’s health care initiative.
KNX 1070′s John Brooks reports as many as 3 million people in Los Angeles County who currently do not have medical insurance will soon have more options than county hospitals.
The news reverberated quickly through waiting rooms at the county USC Medical Center, where one cancer survivor said she needs the protection granted to those with preexisting conditions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) after she lost her home because of mounting medical bills.
“I think it’s great,” she said. “I’m for Obama, I’m for his health care program, let’s help our people, our working people.”
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the court ruling “a good thing” and said the decision was long overdue.
“Is it perfect? No one has ever argued that it is, but it’s a step forward for America,” said Villaraigosa. “When you think about it, this is one of the few countries in the world, Western industrialized countries in the world that didn’t have universal health care coverage.”
“This is the most under-insured big city in the United States of America, so this is great for Los Angeles,” he added.
The benefits of Thursday’s 6-3 decision will likely extend to cash-strapped Sacramento as well.
An estimated 5 million residents will be able to access health insurance under the law, with roughly 3.1 million eligible for subsidized coverage and another 1.5 million Californians who will be newly eligible for expanded Medicaid or Medi-Cal coverage
California is also planning to open a marketplace in 2014 where people can choose health insurance coverage and determine whether they qualify for subsidies.
State insurance commissioner Dave Jones told KNX 1070′s Charles Feldman that undocumented residents will not gain benefits under the health care law, but will continue to be able to receive emergency care at any hospital’s ER room as already mandated under federal law — assuming Congress does not act to repeal the law.
“Those individuals will still have the ability to avail themselves of charity care, but the law does not reach them,” said Jones.
The House is set to vote on repeal of the Affordable Care Act in mid-July.