Locals react to landmark 'Obamacare' decision

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, June 28, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Gary McKenna is shocked like so many others.

"I thought they were going to overturn it. I thought it would be ruled unconstitutional," he said.

Kenneth Turner thought "Obamacare" was doomed, too.

"I really thought it would be thrown out in its entirety," he said.

On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court of the United States said the bill was constitutional. All Americans will need medical insurance by 2014, or they'll face a fine.

"What worries me most is if they can put a tax on us to force us to buy insurance, then they can force us to buy any service that they chose to tax us on, whatever that service is," Turner said.

He's actually the Mayor of Gordon, Ga., located between Milledgeville and Macon. At Georgia Health Sciences University Thursday afternoon, he says he does like a lot of the bill.

It'll also let young adults stay on their parents' plan up to age 26. Insurers will also have cover people with pre-existing conditions like cancer, arthritis or high blood pressure. Doctors will have to report products they get from medical supply companies. Chain restaurants will have to list calories under menu items.

"Right now, I think that President Obama probably has to take it as a victory and campaign on that basis, and Mr. Romney's going to have to take it as a defeat and campaign he's going to reject it," Turner said.

However, Turner is scared about the effect the bill could have on states like Georgia and South Carolina. Businesses with more than 50 employees will have to provide coverage or face penalties. The bill also calls for a expansion in Medicaid coverage.

"And we can not afford it in Georgia and neither can other states in this nation," he said.

Overall, the Urban Institute reports 18.2 million Americans will be required to purchase coverage. That's just 6 percent of the population. It says 10.9 million low-income citizens will be eligible for federal subsidies to help pay for that coverage. Approximately 7.3 million won't be eligible for those subsidies.

News 12 will have more coverage of the ruling on Friday. South Carolina Attorneys General Alan Wilson and Henry McMaster will sit down for an exclusive interview.

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