“I think that there is still some uncertainty on how it will affect us,” said Shelleye Yaklin, president and CEO of the Grand Haven-based North Ottawa Community Health System.
The court's 5-4 decision means the huge overhaul, still taking effect, will proceed and pick up momentum over the next several years. It will affect the way that millions of Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care.
Yaklin said the local health system is waiting on details on how the programs will work, how certain programs will be funded and how possible future legislation may shape the health care law.
“I don’t think there is any significant impact for us at the moment,” Yaklin said.
Yaklin did say the NOCHS staff has been working hard in the past several years to meet requirements of the new law.
Roger Spoelman, CEO of Muskegon-based Mercy Health Partners, said his group has also been working in advance of the health care decision.
“We’ve been anticipating the Affordable Care Act for quite some time,” he said. “Health care reform was coming with or without the mandate.”
Some of the areas Spoelman said the Mercy group has prepared is in its electronic recordkeeping, which has eliminated unnecessary tasks and allows information to be shared among doctors and staff.
The Mercy group has also tried to get more people to use preventative care, Spoelman said.
“People with a lack of coverage lead to a less effective use of the system or they don’t go at all,” he said.
The Supreme Court justices rejected two of the administration's three arguments in support of the insurance requirement. But the court said the mandate could be construed as a tax.
U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, said the tax was one of the reasons he supports repealing the health care law and finding an alternative.
“While the constitutional question has been answered, the common-sense question remains — should Americans be burdened with another onerous tax on individual liberties?” Huizenga said.
State Rep. Amanda Price, R-Park Township, said she was also disappointed with the court's ruling.
"Health insurance in general is confusing, expensive and in need of reform," she said. "I do not believe a federal mandate — or as the Supreme Court calls it, a 'tax' — is the means by which health care reform needs to happen. I ... hope to see a more market-based approach in the future.”
About eight in 10 Americans currently have health insurance. But for most of the 50 million who are uninsured, the ruling offers the promise of guaranteed coverage at affordable prices.
There's also an added safety net for all Americans, whether insured or not. Starting in 2014, insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage for medical treatment, nor can they charge more to people with health problems.
Jen Van Skiver, spokeswoman for the North Ottawa Community Health System, said an important aspect in how they've dealt with the new law was to change people’s behavior to be healthier.
“The challenge is how do you, at a grassroots level, change behavior?” she posed.
Van Skiver noted that it was a behavioral, cultural change to get people to invest in their well-being.
“Ultimately, what we need to recommend as a society and nation is we need to create a society that values being well,” she said.
Yaklin and Van Skiver said this would work well with the mandate of everyone having insurance coverage.
“If more people had insurance, they would start using the system and using it in a better way,” Van Skiver said.
Uncertainty lies in not knowing how the program will be enforced, she added.
Cuts in Medicare payments in 2010 were supposed to be made up by patients with new insurance coming in to utilize medical services. Van Skiver said for every dollar spent on health care, they would get a portion of that reimbursed. She said the investments, unfortunately, haven’t been made to affect behavior and implement some of these changes.
Despite the Supreme Court's decision on Thursday, Yaklin said she doesn’t see the health care debate ending anytime soon.
“Stay tuned, because I don’t think this is the end," she said. "These November elections are going to weigh in on where this will end up. Now it just moves from being a legal battle to a political battle.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.