It was chaos outside the Supreme Court today as news of the justices’ ruling on President Obama’s health care law spread through the crowd of hundreds gathered outside.
“They struck it down! Individual mandate got struck down!” shouted jubilant anti-Obamacare protesters gathered to the right of the court, presumably recounting erroneous early news reports.
But soon the chants of “USA, USA” echoing from the left, pro-Obamacare side of the sidewalk drowned out those cries as news spread that the individual mandate had, in fact, been upheld along with the rest of the health care law.
“We’re still confused,” said Kate Ditzler, holding her 15- month-old daughter Sylvia amid the battling chants outside the court. “CNN was reporting that it was struck down and the AP was reporting it was upheld.”
But as the correct information slowly disseminated through the crowd, the scene turned from an anxious protest to what more resembled two teams after an epic sporting event, with one cheering frantically at their win and the other booing and vowing to challenge the umpires’, or in this case justices’, decision.
“I thought I was going to be out here to applaud the court’s decision but I’m out here with my mouth ajar and tears in my eyes instead,” said Danielle Savoy while holding an “Obamacare: Turning your doctor’s office into the DMV” sign. “I’m really shocked it went this way.”
Mike Armstrong, who was holding a sign that read “Obamacare: Anti-life, Anti-Choice,” said the court’s ruling was meant “a lot of bad things for the country.”
“I think it’s also its going to be a removal of a lot of rights,” Armstrong said. “I should have a right to have insurance or not and other people should have a right not to have to pay for it.”
Savoy said she believes the law is “a death sentence for insurance companies” and will lead to “de facto socialized health care.” The silver lining for her, she said, was that the ruling would likely motivate conservatives to work twice as hard to defeat President Obama in November.
“I’m hoping it will galvanize the base and make people, you know, make people get out and vote,” Savoy said. “Let’s get a regime change.”
But for Becky Ogle, who came in her wheelchair to support the law, the court’s ruling was a blessing.
“I need this law,” Ogle said. “I can’t afford to pay that kind of money out of pocket and then the doctor’s bills on top.”
Ogle said she currently pays $850 per month for her health insurance and without the Affordable Care Act, health care would become too expensive for her to afford.
“Overall this is a great law,” she said. “They can’t exclude me for pre-existing conditions, they can’t charge me for premiums, there will be no more lifetime caps.”
The provision of Obamacare that prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions is the reason D.C. resident Rob Smith said he stood outside the court today to show his support for the law.
Smith’s 3-month-old daughter Vera, who drank from a bottle while Smith held a sign supporting “Medicare for all,” has a pre-existing condition, he said.
“I don’t want her to go through life having to be turned down for insurance coverage because of her pre-existing condition,” Smith said. “That’s one of the great things about the Affordable Care Act.”