SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – The Supreme Court ruled 6-to-3 on Thursday that President Obama's Affordable Care Act allows the federal government to provide tax subsidies to help millions of low and middle income American's pay for health insurance premiums.
More than one million Californians are currently enrolled in Covered California, the state's healthcare exchange. Patients who were uninsured just a few years ago are now covered and are receiving regular care.
"Here at the La Maestra Community Health Center in City Heights, you walk in and say, this is a place that provides high quality care, has the right space, the right people, the right technology," says Gary Rotto, the Director of Health Policy for the Council of Community Clinics. The council overseas more than 85 clinics in San Diego County and serves more than half a million patients each year.
After Thursday's Supreme Court ruling, Rotto says he is both relieved and excited.
Rotto says that if the Supreme Court had ruled the other way, it would have created chaos in the system, even though California is not part of the federal exchange. Californian's would not have lost their coverage had the Supreme Court ruled differently, but Rotto says had they ruled against Obamacare, it would have affected grant applications, prevented the building of new care sites and any extension of services.
"We would have lost out on those opportunities to be able to cover more people who need high quality services and need the coverage we provide here in our region," says Rotto.
Thursday's ruling has also generated a discussion among local legal experts.
"Obamacare is here to stay," says Thomas Jefferson School of Law professor David Steinberg.
"If the justices had determined that the federal Obamacare exchanges were unconstitutional, you would have had millions of people suddenly without insurance, without any way to get it and no clear fix to that," says Professor Steinberg.