Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson's medical community is weighing in on today's supreme court decision to uphold President Obama's signature health care reform.
The 5-4 ruling now makes it certain that major health care changes will move ahead--touching virtually every American's life.
The healthcare plan is a legal football, it's a political football, it's an applause line for stump speeches and debates. But let's remember whether you think it's a good or bad idea it affects patients and the people who care for them.
Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals see the human side of the health care law on their exam tables.
The Chief Medical Officer of Carondelet/St. Joseph's says patients often concede they waited until they were so sick they were forced to come to the hospital.
Dr. Donald Denmark says, "Often times we hear, even in these days, I couldn't afford to go to the doctor, I couldn't afford the pay out of pocket for care for dealing with so I just ignored it. I couldn't afford to buy my medications, so I just skipped the medications and after a week without it, they ended up in an acute illness situation."
The healthcare law calls for preventive care to catch illnesses when they are easier and cheaper to treat.
Carondelet is already working on programs to better monitor patients, keep their conditions under control and keep them out of expensive hospital stays.
We asked Carondelet Health network CEO James Beckmann how much of the law centers on how a patient will pay for healthcare.
"I think that's a big part of it but also there are other aspects of the legislation that begin to set expectations for providers, healthcare providers to provide care in a more effective way and a safer way."
And that includes efforts to keep relapses to a minimum so a patient doesn't finish one expensive hospital stay, and end up back in the hospital again.
El Rio Community Health Center makes a specialty of treating people who have trouble paying for health care. El Rio issued a printed statement praising the ruling and saying it could help up to a million additional Arizonans get health care, but El Rio is concerned about part of the ruling that gives state more authority to avoid expanding their medicaid programs.
Arizona has been cutting back on Medicaid in the name of budget cuts and it would take expanding Medicaid, or AHCCS as it's called here, to insure that additional million people.