SEATTLE - The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has ramifications beyond health insurance coverage for people in Washington. The state has already been moving forward with the law, and estimates that 800,000 of the more than one-million uninsured Washingtonians will use some portion of the ACA to get coverage.
At the Economic Opportunity Institute, Aaron Keating points out that insuring more people means more of them will use the healthcare system. And that means a boost for the economy.
"About 300,000 people work in health care sectors all across Washington state. That's about 10 percent of the state's non-farm jobs overall. And any time you look at increasing funding for the healthcare sector, which the Affordable Care Act is going to do, you're looking at the number of jobs increasing as well."
He notes that 78 percent of the workforce in healthcare is female. So, improving the job picture in that field and related technologies means more economic stability for Washington women, whose wages statewide lag behind those of men.
Lecturer Aaron Katz at the University of Washington School of Public Health says the court's decision is by no means the final word on the ACA. He predicts it will heat up the political rhetoric even more - and thinks it's more important than ever for voters, not just politicians, to speak up.
"We sort-of have put the Supreme Court in its rightful place - it's made a decision based on the constitutionality of the law. But ultimately, whether the law is wise or not, is not up to the court. It's up to the citizens and our representatives."
Washington State Sen. Karen Keiser (D-33rd Dist.) and Rep. Eileen Cody (D-34th Dist.), who chair the Senate and House Health Committees, will host a public summit on July 25 in Olympia to decide on a response to the Supreme Court's decision and discuss moves for the next legislative session. It takes place from 10 a.m. to noon on the State Capitol campus, John A. Cherberg Building, 198 15th Ave. S.W., Olympia.