Health care reform ruling generates strong opinions
Supporters hailed Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on federal health care reform as a victory for Americans, while opponents reaffirmed their commitment to repeal the “ObamaCare” law.
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld nearly all of the 2010 health care reform law, including the controversial requirement that practically every American must buy health insurance or face a financial penalty. The court’s opinion referred to that penalty as a “tax.” The court also kept other key provisions of the law, such as letting children stay on their parents’ health insurance policies until age 26 and mandating that health insurers cover anyone with a pre-existing health condition.
The ruling sharply divided friends and foes of the law.
“Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it,” President Obama, a Democrat, said at the White House.
Obama’s likely GOP rival in the November election, Mitt Romney, echoed other Republicans in calling for ObamaCare to be abolished. Romney said that in his first day in the White House, he would move to repeal the law.
“If we want to get rid of ObamaCare, we’re going to have to replace President Obama,” Romney said.
“Let’s make sure we understand what the court did and did not do. What the court did today was say that ObamaCare does not violate the Constitution. What they did not do was say that ObamaCare is good law or good policy,” Romney said. “ObamaCare was bad policy yesterday, it’s bad policy today. ObamaCare was bad law yesterday, it’s bad law today.”
Here’s a roundup of other reactions to the Supreme Court decision:
“The health care reform genie is out of the bottle and there is no way to get it back in. Regardless of the problems with the Affordable Care Act — and there are many — much of the new law has already been implemented and has created expectations that providers, employers, insurers and users alike rely on.”
– Lawrence Mirel, associate fellow, R Street Institute, a “free market” think tank
“It is a dual-edged sword in that Americans have better access to coverage, but fewer plans are being offered and because there is a mandate, insurance companies are raising prices because Americans ‘must’ purchase health insurance.”
– Kevin Flynn, president, HealthCare Advocates Inc., a health care clearinghouse for consumers
“Individuals and families need secure, affordable coverage choices. Maintaining the link between market reforms and universal coverage is essential to avoiding significant cost increases and loss of choice for consumers and employers.”
– Karen Ignagni, president and CEO, America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group for health insurers
“This decision allows state and federal policymakers across the country to move forward in their work implementing the provisions of the law. Over the next decade, 32 million previously uninsured people could gain affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage as a result of the law.”
– Karen Davis, president, and Sara Collins, vice president, The Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit that works toward betterment of the health care system
“The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold ObamaCare based on the individual mandate’s classification as a tax is a distressing blow to taxpayers. The ruling undermines President Obama’s 2009 assertion that his health care law was ‘not a tax’ and makes it clear that he tried to deceive the American people in order to get the bill passed by Congress. Now, ObamaCare represents the single largest tax increase on young people in the nation’s history. When it takes full effect, the Internal Revenue Service will have immense new power and authority to persecute and prosecute a whole new group of taxpayers.”
– Tom Schatz, president, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonprofit watchdog group
“Today, the Supreme Court ruled that the debate over the Affordable Care Act is over. ObamaCare is here to stay. The days of health insurance company price-gouging and denials of care are over. Every family and small business owner who worries about health care and their future can breathe a sigh of relief.”
– Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now, a nonprofit health care advocacy group
“Health care modernization did not begin and must not end with the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. UnitedHealth Group strongly supports making high-quality health care accessible and affordable for everyone. Now is the time to apply proven ideas and best practices to build a better health care system.”
– UnitedHealth Group, one of the country’s largest health insurers
“Today’s Supreme Court decision does not change our business strategy or commitment to system reforms that make quality care more affordable and accessible. We are prepared for the changes ahead and will continue to fully comply with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, we know that much more must be done to fix the problems that remain in our health care system. We believe there is still time — if people can come together in a bipartisan way — to improve quality and affordability. That security is what Americans want and need.”
– Aetna, one of the country’s largest health insurers
“No government should have the power to rule over a person’s conscience. This decision was wrong. We will continue to fight the attacks on religious freedom such as the HHS mandate created by this massive and unprecedented intrusion into the personal health decisions of U.S. citizens.”
– Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO, Liberty Institute, a nonprofit group that fights for religious liberty
“Clearly, this mandate has now become a tax on all Americans and a broken campaign promise from President Obama not to raise taxes. We are concerned about the precedent that this will set in Congress’ ability to mandate other aspects of our lives, but we will move forward from today to continue to fight, harder than ever, for real health care reform for our membership.”
– Dan Danner, president and CEO, National Federation of Independent Business, a lobbying group for small businesses
“We’re disappointed that the Supreme Court did not overturn these provisions. We certainly had hopes that the empty promises would be overturned so that we could get on with directing the conversation back to what we really need to do to bring medical care to more people at lower costs.”
– Kathryn Serkes, chairwoman, Doctor Patient Medical Association, a nonpartisan group that promotes “freedom in medicine” for physicians and patients
“Republicans like Mitt Romney, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell want to take us back to a place where people can be denied coverage because they’ve been sick, where tens of millions of Americans have no access to health care, and where our elderly citizens have to decide between putting food on the table and buying their medicine.”
– Leo Gerard, president, United Steelworkers, a labor union
“Passing the Affordable Care Act was the greatest single step in generations toward ensuring access to affordable, quality health care for every American – regardless of where they live or how much money they make. … No one thinks this law is perfect. But Democrats have proven we’re willing to work with Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act.”
– U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat
“The American people weren’t waiting on the Supreme Court to tell them whether they supported this law. That question was settled two and a half years ago. The more the American people have learned about this law, the less they’ve liked it. So now that the court has ruled, it’s time to move beyond the constitutional debate and focus on the primary reason this law should be fully repealed and replaced: because of the colossal damage it has already done to the health care system, to the economy and to the job market.”
– U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican
“The president’s health care law is hurting our economy by driving up health costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire. Today’s ruling underscores the urgency of repealing this harmful law in its entirety. What Americans want is a common-sense, step-by-step approach to health care reform that will protect Americans’ access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost. Republicans stand ready to work with a president who will listen to the people and will not repeat the mistakes that gave our country ObamaCare.”
– U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican
“In passing health reform, we made history for our nation and progress for the American people. We completed the unfinished business of our society and strengthened the character of our country. We ensured health care would be a right for all, not a privilege for the few. Today, the Supreme Court affirmed our progress and protected that right, securing a future of health and economic security for the middle class and for every American.”
— U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat