(Washington, D.C.) -- The Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the legislative centerpiece of President Obama's first term, the Affordable Care Act.
In a 5-4 ruling, the Court decided the law's "individual mandate" - which requires people to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty - violates the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause, but is allowable under Congress' power to set taxes.
Here's how people are reacting to the historic ruling:
When he was Attorney General, Governor Corbett joined the lawsuit aimed at overturning the health care law. Here's the release his office put out this afternoon:
Governor Tom Corbett today said he was disappointed in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the federal healthcare law, known as Obamacare, but said he will work hard to limit the law’s negative impact on Pennsylvanians.
Corbett, when he was attorney general, joined a dozen other states in challenging the federal healthcare reform law. When he became governor, Corbett continued that court challenge, along with 26 other states.
“It appears that the Supreme Court agreed with the lawsuit brought by myself and 12 other Attorneys General finding Obamacare unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, however they did uphold the law under Congress’ taxing authority,’’ Corbett said.
“Despite the President’s repeated assertions that this was not a tax, the Supreme Court today ruled that it is in fact a tax,’’ Corbett said. “Not only is it a tax, but it may turn out to be one of the largest tax increases in the history of our nation. It is a tax on our citizens that they cannot afford. It is a tax that hits our small businesses the hardest and will kill job growth.
“This law will raise healthcare costs for our families, our employers and our state,’’ Corbett said. “This is a burden to all of us who work every day to recover from the recession.
“While I am disappointed with this ruling, respect for the law and for the process of the law -- even when we disagree -- is part of our democracy. My administration will do all we can to ensure the negative impact of this law affects the lives of Pennsylvanians as little as possible,’’ Corbett said.
The law requires individuals who are not covered by an employer or government insurance plan to maintain minimal health insurance coverage. It also increases national medical spending and expands Medicaid to unsustainable levels.
“I think we can all agree there are Pennsylvanians who need our help. However, expanding government bureaucracy, government programs and government spending is not the answer. As governor I will work to ensure Pennsylvanians have access to affordable and quality healthcare,’’ Corbett said.
“That is why now more than ever we need change in Washington,’’ Corbett said. “We need to elect lawmakers who will put the needs of our families first, leaders that respect our freedoms, respect free enterprise and respect competition.’’
Republican Congressman Joe Pitts, who has been an outspoken critic of the law:
While I am deeply disappointed that the law was upheld, I continue to believe that it is bad policy. Just because the Court declares something Constitutional does not mean that it is a good idea. The health care law is not the reform Americans need or deserve.
I am still reviewing the decision and will post a more detailed reaction on my website as soon as possible. As your representative and as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, I support free market reforms to reduce the cost of care and expand coverage. Please read my detailed memorandum on solutions that empower patients and doctors to make health care decisions.
U.S. Senator Bob Casey:
“The fact that this law was upheld means that Pennsylvanians will not lose their coverage due to preexisting conditions, young adults will be allowed coverage under a parent’s plan and older Americans will not have to face dramatic increases in prescription drug costs. I will continue to work with other senators to make improvements to the legislation. Further, there is no doubt that we still confront significant challenges to reducing the cost of healthcare and the only way to address these in the long-run is for Democrats and Republicans to work together.”
Republican Congressman Todd Platts:
Today’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court underscores the need for Congress, as the elected representatives of the people, to thoroughly review the ramifications the health care law will have on our economy and our citizens. While I strongly disagree with today’s decision, I respect the Supreme Court’s authority under the United States Constitution. A narrow majority of the Supreme Court may have upheld the constitutionality of the health care law, but that does not change the fact that this law is clearly bad public policy.
I have and will continue to strongly support efforts to repeal the health care law and replace it with true reforms focused on lowering the cost of health care for all Americans. This massive new entitlement program will cost taxpayers more than $2 trillion per decade, increase taxes on businesses and further increase health care premiums for individuals and families alike. Rising health care costs remain the main driver of our Nation’s long-term debt crisis and this law only exacerbates this critically important fiscal challenge.
Truly reforming our health care system requires a common-sense, step-by-step approach that will lower costs and better ensure access to affordable, quality health care. I have supported reforms - such as allowing small businesses to form health insurance pools and join together across state lines to purchase health insurance, medical malpractice liability reform, and insurance reforms addressing the issues of pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ plans – that would achieve these goals.
The Hospital and Healthsystem of Pennsylvania:
“Increasing the numbers of individuals and families with health insurance has always been a priority for Pennsylvania’s hospitals. Higher rates of coverage improve access to primary and preventive care, and therefore contribute to better health; assure that more who are hospitalized or need other health care services are covered; and reduce the uncompensated care burden on hospitals. We have supported, and will continue to support, state and federal health care policies aimed at reducing the number of uninsured individuals.
“Apart from today’s decision, Pennsylvania’s hospitals remain committed to the reforms and evolution already underway in health care. This means an unwavering commitment to quality and patient safety through programs that eliminate health care-associated infections, prevent readmissions, and limit complications among the millions of patients Pennsylvania’s hospitals care for each year. It means strengthening the link between quality outcomes and payments to hospitals. And it means continuing programs related to accountable care organizations, health information technology, transparency, medical homes, value-based purchasing, and other initiatives underway to improve the effectiveness and coordination of health care.
“Pennsylvania’s hospitals will continue to work with policymakers at both the state and federal level to continue reforming and improving the health care delivery system while lowering the numbers of individuals and families without health
Pennsylvania's National Federation of Independent Businesses chapter, which was part of the lawsuit decided by the Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court’s decision today upholding the controversial Affordable Care Act and its heavy-handed individual mandate is a deep disappointment to small businesses everywhere, said the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) today.
“While we are certainly disappointed, NFIB respects the decision to uphold the individual mandate by the Supreme Court. Clearly this mandate has now become a tax on all Americans and a broken campaign promise from President Obama not to raise taxes,” said Dan Danner, President and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business. “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.
“Under PPACA, small-business owners are going to face an onslaught of taxes and mandates, resulting in job loss and closed businesses. We will continue to fight for the repeal of PPACA in the halls of Congress; only with PPACA’s full repeal will Congress have the ability to go back to the drawing board to craft real reform that makes reducing costs a number one priority. The power and control of health-care decisions should be in the hands of the consumer, not the government.”
“This day will go down in history as the day when Americans lost a part of their freedom – the freedom to choose what to buy with their own money.” said Karen Harned, Executive Director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center.
NFIB State Director Kevin Shivers said the ruling guarantees that Pennsylvania residents will have their most personal health care decisions made by politicians and bureaucrats in Washington and in other states whom they’ve never met and whom they’ll have a hard time influencing in the future.
“The tragedy in this ruling is that Pennsylvania residents are now at the mercy of politicians from other states and bureaucrats in Washington whose decisions won’t be based on what is best for Pennsylvania,” said Shivers. “Small businesses here will be overwhelmed by mandates, taxes and burdens imposed on them by people whom we cannot as easily hold accountable.”
Today, June 28th, the Supreme Court preserved the Affordable Care Act. This is an enormous victory for all Pennsylvanians, and a giant leap forward in the fight for equitable access to healthcare, despite the influence of special interests bent on undermining consumer protections and access to affordable healthcare.
“This decision will ensure that children with pre-existing health conditions will have the care they need, young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health plans, small businesses will receive tax health insurance credits, thousands of Pennsylvanians will get rebates from their insurers this summer, and millions will no longer have out-of-pocket costs for routine preventive care,” said Keystone Progress Executive Director Michael Morrill.
“Now that the ruling has been announced it is time for politicians in Harrisburg to get to work and implement the Affordable Care Act in Pennsylvania, they have no more excuses, Republicans have spent so much time fighting the Affordable Care Act that they have left our state unprepared,” continued Morrill.
Keystone Progress calls on Harrisburg legislators to stop delaying and move forward by implementing the entire Affordable Care Act here in Pennsylvania by establishing an insurance exchange that will allow millions of currently uninsured Pennsylvanians and hundreds of Pennsylvania small businesses to access good health care coverage at affordable prices.
The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals
The decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a modest step in the right direction to address the health care crisis in the U.S. Yet despite much of the debate surrounding the law regarding access to health care for the uninsured, the much larger crisis in our health care system is “the crisis of the insured.”
It is a profound crisis of affordability for those individuals and families that have coverage on the individual market or through their employers. “Health insurance” has lost all meaning when accessing such insurance means up to $5,000, $10,000 or more in out of pocket co-payments and deductibles. Too many families that work hard and play by the rules find themselves on the slippery slope to ruined credit and bankruptcy when simply confronted with a health misfortune.
While some of the ACA’s provisions would have applied a temporary band aid to this gaping wound, the fundamental problem in our health care is the dominance by a small handful of insurance and pharmaceutical conglomerates and profit-driven hospitals that have created a system that squanders billions of dollars on wasteful overhead and collections, and a system which prioritizes their exorbitant profits and executive compensation above all while ordinary Americans struggle to get the care they deserve.
One of the region's largest health insurers is planning to move ahead with implementation of the health care law. Aji Abraham of Capital Blue Cross says the insurance provider is fundamentally interested in seeing as many as people as as possible have health coverage. But, he adds there is some concern about the potential costs associated with the law.
"There's a provision in the Affordable Care Act that would impose a tax on health insurance policies, that would drive up the cost. There are other things in there that will drive up the cost. Potentially, the benefit of additional coverage, but still with additonal costs. As a result, there's parts that we are interested in and happy to see carried forward, there are other parts that we have very significant concerns about."
Capital Blue Cross insures as many as 900,000 people in 21 counties in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.
We will continue to update this post as we recieve more feedback.
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