Initial reactions to Supreme Court upholding Affordable Care Act

06/28/2012 10:15 AM

(UPDATED) — The high court’s 5-4 ruling Thursday to uphold the Affordable Care Act drew immediate and predictably partisan reactions from Kentucky’s congressional delegation with Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth calling it “an exciting day” and Republican congressmen digging in to lampoon the bill as a tax.

Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the four more liberal-leaning justices to affirm the mandate for individuals to have health insurance. They said in their ruling that it was constitutional under the federal government’s ability to tax citizens — not a part of the commerce clause as President Barack Obama’s administration argued.

Yarmuth called the chief justice’s move to uphold the law “significant” and could blunt Republicans’ efforts to write off the decision as a partisan one.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Verailles, said in a statement that even though he voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, he believes “there are good parts of the law that helped usher in much-needed reforms, like those that protect Central Kentuckians by preventing insurance companies from dropping people if they get sick, ending lifetime caps on coverage, and eliminating pre-existing condition exclusions.

He said the law isn’t perfect and “needs some major changes” and that Congress needs to deal with ways to lower health care prices next.

Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said the ruling reaffirms that “Congress must act to repeal this misguide law … Today’s decision does nothing to diminish the fact that Obamacare’s mandates, tax hikes, and Medicare cuts should be repealed and replaced with common sense reforms that lower costs and that the American people actually want.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Hebron, said the ruling was “disappointing.”

“We cannot mistake the court’s ruling for an evaluation of effective, commonsense policy. While the Supreme Court judged the health care law’s constitutionality, the American people and actuarial experts have already judged its quality — that it is a disaster for patients, small businesses and future generations of Americans.”

The ruling also said the federal government has the ability to expand Medicaid, a state-federal program that covers health care for the poor and disabled. However, it says the federal government can’t turn off the spigot of money for Medicaid if states choose not to go forward with the expansion.

The new Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act would add 320,000 more Medicaid enrollees in Kentucky to the roughly 820,000 current enrollees. The program currently costs about $6 billion a year.

Others weighing in include Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who told CNBC he was “extremely disappointed” in Roberts. In a statement, Paul said this about the ruling:

“Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional. While the court may have erroneously come to the conclusion that the law is allowable, it certainly does nothing to make this mandate or government takeover of our health care right. Obamacare is wrong for Americans. It will destroy our health care system. This now means we fight every hour, every day until November to elect a new President and a new Senate to repeal Obamacare.”

And U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, again called for repeal of the Affordable Care Act:

“Since its passage, our health care system has been plagued by burdensome regulations and uncertainty. Most Americans agree that controlling costs and maintaining affordable insurance rates are a top priority. We need meaningful solutions that reduce costs, improve quality, and make health care more affordable and more accessible.”

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