BY: MIKE VALERIO
The Supreme Court's Obamacare ruling means nearly 300,000 Virginians will still have help from the federal government, in order to pay for health insurance.
Republican Del. John O'Bannon is one of Obamacare's toughest critics, who works as a neurologist and represents Henrico and Richmond in the General Assembly.
In an interview Thursday, O'Bannon said he's glad the Supreme Court allowed thousands of Virginians to receive federal subsidies, in order to pay for the insurance they need the most.
Mike Valerio interviews Del. John O'Bannon outside Johnston-Willis Hospital, June 25, 2015
"As a physician, I think it's great for these folks," O'Bannon said. "Don't forget that the Obamacare law was passed now almost five years ago. And the good parts of it were up front. The bad parts of it are coming home now."
But O'Bannon said the High Court's decision does not make the Affordable Care Act any better. O'Bannon described patients' premiums skyrocketing, and people unable to see their doctors. His prescription is to simply go back to the drawing board and rewrite the law.
On the other side of the debate are worries that a different ruling could have hurt millions across the country.
"It could have had really catastrophic consequences for the insurance marketplace as a whole, because you would have shock waves into that system," said Julian Walker of Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.
Julian Walker reacts to Supreme Court ruling upholding Obamacare federal subsidies
Walker said if the Supreme Court justices ruled the other way, thousands of Virginians might have dropped their plans altogether - their insurance too expensive. That would have diminished the size of the insurance pool, and potentially led to a rise in costs.
"Anything that gets more people into the insurance marketplace, the private insurance marketplace, that is a good thing to create stability for the system, the providers, and all of us," Walker said.
As for where this leaves Virginia, a battleground state for the expansion of Medicaid, O'Bannon said not to expect the Commonwealth to embrace the issue after the Supreme Court's ruling.
"In the big picture, it has a whole lot of new taxes it's all run through your central government," O'Bannon said. "It's not going to be efficient. If there's no way it can be efficient, like a lot of other federal programs.”