Reaction pours in over historic court ruling on health care

The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which is commonly referred to as “Obamacare.”

The court upheld the law, including the individual insurance mandate.
The long-awaited decision was read by Chief Justice John Roberts.
The ruling means the historic overhaul will continue to go into effect over the next several years, affecting the way all Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care.
The court’s four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Roberts in the outcome.
Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
Most Americans oppose the law, even though they strongly support most of its provisions, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday.
Fifty-six percent of the American people are against the health care overhaul and 44 percent favor it, according to the online poll conducted last week.
Support for provisions of the health care law was strong, with a full 82 percent of survey respondents, for example, favoring banning insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
Sixty-one percent are in favor of allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26 and 72 percent back requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance for their employees.
In an address to the American people later this morning, Obama said, “Today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country…Here in America, the wealthiest nation on earth, no accident or illness should lead to any family’s financial ruin.”
To read the court’s full decision, click here.

Politicians, policy advocates, attorneys and scholars are weighing in on the ruling today.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said, “I continue to oppose ObamaCare. One of my first acts as Governor was to authorize Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to add Wisconsin to the federal lawsuit opposing ObamaCare. Wisconsin will not take any action to implement ObamaCare. I am hopeful that political changes in Washington, D.C. later this year ultimately end the implementation of this law at the federal level. If there is no political remedy from Washington and the law moves forward, it would require the majority of people in Wisconsin to pay more money for less health care. Additionally, it would increase the size and cost of government, decrease the quality of healthcare and, in our state, reduce access for those truly in need of assistance. The federal government should not tell individuals and families what to do with healthcare. The alternative is more transparency and a more active role by consumers, so we can truly control costs.”

Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, said, “This historic ruling is a major step towards establishing the freedom of every American to make their own health care decisions. We are one step closer to every American having the peace of mind of knowing that health care will be there when they need it. The court’s decision is a particular relief to nearly one million Wisconsinites who have preexisting conditions who will face outrageous discrimination if they ever have to buy insurance on their own. Now that a conservative Supreme Court has affirmed the constitutionality of the health care law, we believe that Governor Walker has a moral obligation to restart the implementation process here in Wisconsin. We call on Walker to stop playing politics with people’s lives.”

Rick Esenberg, president of Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and adjunct professor of law at Marquette University Law School, said the reasoning for the Supreme Court’s decision was surprising because most observers expected the decision would be made based on Congress’ ability to regulate interstate commerce rather than as a function of Congress’ taxing power. “I believe that our Constitutional scheme has given only limited powers to Congress and that if Congress can impose a penalty on you, if Congress can attempt to mandate that you do something … then it’s hard to see what limitations on the authority exist other than those we might find in the Bill of Rights,” Esenberg said.

Ed Fallone, associate professor of law at Marquette University Law School, said, “I am very gratified that the court upheld the law. I think the arguments in favor of its Constitution were overwhelming. I’m only disappointed that it was upheld on the taxing power theory as opposed to the commerce clause theory.”

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce president and CEO Kurt Bauer said, “The fact that a divided court upheld the constitutionality of the health care law does not make it good public policy. As Chief Justice Roberts noted in his decision, Congress, not the Supreme Court, made the policy choices under the Constitution and hopefully lawmakers will have the good sense to repeal this misguided law. The so-called Affordable Health Care Act will actually drive up the cost of health care, and in the absence of massive tax increases is likely to bankrupt the federal government. The uncertainty that businesses of all sizes feel continues with today’s decision and will be a drag on economic growth.”
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said, “Today’s Obamacare decision establishes that there is no area of Americans’ private lives that is off limits to federal intrusion and control. Freedom took a real body blow. It is now up to Congress – and hopefully a new President – to repeal this unpopular monstrosity and replace it with free market reforms that will actually improve the quality and restrain the cost of health care in America.” political action executive director Justin Ruben said, “Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the health of this nation. MoveOn members fought hard for the Affordable Care Act, and today’s decision means millions of Americans – including many MoveOn members – will be able to access affordable, quality health care. Today, justice was upheld. But the fact that the Affordable Care Act was ever in jeopardy shows how politicized this court has become. All too often, this 1 percent court has legislated from the bench on behalf of corporations and the wealthy instead of acting as fair arbiters of the law. The next president will nominate as many as three new justices, setting the court’s direction for a generation. There’s every reason to believe Mitt Romney would try to put more 1 percent justices on the court. MoveOn will dedicate our energy and resources to reelecting President Obama to ensure more fair-minded justices are seated on the court.”

Judd Legum, editor in chief for Think Progress and vice president for communications for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, said, “This is a victory for millions of Americans who are already benefiting from the health reform law and the tens of millions who will benefit in the future — but the fight is not yet over. Now that health care reform has been declared undeniably constitutional, its enemies will attack it in every other way they can. If they succeed more people will get sick, will die, and will go bankrupt because of a broken health care system. Health care is a basic human right. The Supreme Court knows this and saw the challenge to Obamacare for what it was — an extreme, partisan attack on the health and well-being of American families. We cannot go back to the days where families lose their homes or go bankrupt trying to save their loved one’s lives, where cancer patients scramble to cover out-of-pocket costs to continue treatment, and when being a woman is considered a pre-exisiting condition.”

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said, “The federal government is tasked with protecting our cherished liberties – not infringing upon them with mandates and intrusions into our lives. Today’s ruling affirms another broken promise by President Obama, who misled the American people in selling the law by insisting that the federal mandate was not a tax. Despite today’s disappointing decision on the law’s constitutionality, there is no question that the law remains terrible policy. It is bad news for individuals, whose personal health care decisions are threatened by greater government control. It is bad news for workers, whose paychecks and jobs are threatened by the hundreds of billions of dollars of new tax hikes and crippling uncertainty from the massive law. It is bad news for seniors, whose health security is threatened by the bureaucratic restrictions to access from the law’s changes to Medicare. It is bad news for future generations, whose prospects for greater opportunity are stifled by the trillions of dollars of new debt that will result from this law. It is incumbent upon citizens and their elected leaders to clear this partisan roadblock with full repeal, and advance common-sense, patient-centered solutions. We can still ensure universal access to quality, affordable health coverage without a budget-busting federal government power grab. I remain committed to advancing reforms that realign incentives so that individuals and their doctors – not government bureaucrats or insurance company bureaucrats – are the nucleus of our health care system. This requires reforms to equalize the tax treatment of health insurance, invite true choice and competition, and ensure critical programs like Medicare and Medicaid can deliver on their promise in the 21st century. “Today’s decision strengthens the case for repeal and replace. With the right leadership in place, I am confident we can advance real health care solutions for the American people. It is now in the hands of the American people to determine whether this disastrous law will stand.”

Rob Zerban, Democratic challenger to Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), said, “I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, protecting millions of Americans from living at the mercy of health insurance corporations. While I still support stronger healthcare plans, like ‘Medicare for All’, President Obama’s health care reform was a bold move in the right direction toward providing affordable healthcare for all Americans. It is a shame that Paul Ryan did not, and continues not to support providing health care for people in his district. From voting against the Affordable Care Act to working to end Medicare as we know it, Paul Ryan would gladly put American families at risk simply to ensure profits for his campaign contributors in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.”

Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health executive director Sara Finger said, “The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA) including the individual mandate is a tremendous win for women and their families, including the 50 million Americans, and over 500,000 Wisconsinites, 180,000 Wisconsin women, currently without insurance. The Supreme Court ruled, now it is up to the states, including Wisconsin, to make health care, including comprehensive women’s health care, available and affordable to keep women and families healthy. Moving forward with implementation of the ACA, insurance will cover more of what we need, when we need it, making women healthier and making it easier to take care of ourselves and our families. We’ll have peace of mind that our children, teens and young adults will be safe, healthier and covered. Already, parents of 94,700 Wisconsin children with pre-existing conditions, like asthma or diabetes, have peace of mind knowing their child won’t ever be denied coverage.”

Barbara Lyons, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, said, “Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, known as ObamaCare, does not change the sweeping anti-life components of the law. Still in effect are offensive provisions that expand taxpayer-funded abortion coverage and abortion subsidies, initiates the rationing of health care for older Americans, and provides the authority for the HHS mandate and future mandates.”

Mary Cannon Veed, an attorney and insurance regulatory expert for the Chicago law firm of Arnstein & Lehr LLP, which has an office in Milwaukee, said, “Justice Robert’s key contribution to the opinion was in finding a way out of the ‘trick box’ created by the Anti-Injunction Act, which prohibits suits against taxes filed before the taxes are to be paid. Nobody, not even the opponents, wanted to wait that long, which is why the court appointed an ‘amicus curiae’ to make sure the applicability of the law was fully explored. The conclusion the Court reached, incidentally, makes perfect sense. The individual mandate is actually rather easy to constitutionally justify as a form of taxation: we as a nation decided a long time ago not to tolerate the refusal of necessary care to anyone, whether or not they are able to pay for it. But that causes an economic dislocation felt both when people purchase health insurance whose price is increased by the necessity of subsidizing ‘free riders,’ and again when we pay our state and federal taxes, which pay the rest of the cost of uninsured care. The health care ‘tax’ merely shifts some of that cost back to the people who generate it. The decision today settles the question of whether Congress can establish near-universal health insurance. The debate continues as to whether it should. But anyone arguing that we should abandon “Obamacare” must now play fair and explain how else the escalating costs of mandated provision of health care to the uninsured ought to be controlled and paid for. With health care expenses rapidly approaching 25 percent of our GDP, it’s an important question.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Thomas Donohue said, “While we respect the Court’s decision, today’s Supreme Court ruling does not change the reality that the health care law is fundamentally flawed. Left unchanged, it will cost many Americans their employer-based health insurance, undermine job creation, and raise health care costs for all. It is imperative that policymakers and the business community now work together to develop and support genuine reforms that control costs, improve access, ensure quality, and promote wellness. These reforms and goals are achievable. The Chamber and the American business community are ready to go to work to enact true health care reform. Given the Court’s decision, the need for action has never been greater.”

Dan Danner, president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), which challenged the law in the Supreme Court case, said, “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. 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.”

John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of Small Business Majority, an advocacy group for American small businesses, said, “The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today upholding the Affordable Care Act is a victory for small business owners who have struggled with the excessively high cost of health insurance for decades. The Affordable Care Act tackles small business owners’ top priorities when it comes to healthcare reform: cost and accessibility. The law will significantly rein in costs while providing more health coverage options for entrepreneurs.”

One Wisconsin Now deputy director Mike Browne said, “One of Gov. Walker’s first acts upon taking office was authorizing the use of taxpayer dollars to sue to repeal Obamacare. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the arguments of Gov. Walker and other opponents of health insurance reform. Gov. Walker’s loss in court today is a big win for Wisconsin. Consumers now have the law on their side to make sure their premium dollars are used to pay for their care, not to pad insurance company profits. They won’t lose their coverage because they get sick, or be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Women will pay the same as men for their health insurance and young adults just starting out on their own can stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. It’s time for Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans to stop fighting against Wisconsin consumers and work with Democrats to implement health insurance reform.”

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said, “I join the millions of Americans today who are disappointed with this decision. The individual mandate is a massive infringement on our freedom, and it’s bad policy. Today, the President and Congressional Democrats own a huge tax increase on the American public. If this bill would have been described as a tax three years ago, it would have gone down in flames in Congress. The health care law’s taxes and mandates are making it harder to create jobs. Its budgeting gimmicks will bankrupt our country. It’s both failing to curb health care costs and forcing up to 35 million Americans to lose their employer-provided health insurance. The President’s health care law and massive tax increase needs to be repealed in full if we are going to get our economy back on track. I am committed as I have always been, to repealing the full law and putting health care decisions into the hands of Americans and doctors — not Washington bureaucrats.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) said, “I am very disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law. Just because it may be considered constitutional does not mean it is the right thing to do. The law is a significant overreach on the part of Congress and takes a fundamentally wrong approach to achieving the goal of making affordable coverage available to all Americans. I am pleased, however, that the American people will have an opportunity to make their voice heard on this subject later this year.”

Republican National Committee Chairman and former Wisconsin GOP Chair Reince Priebus said, “Today’s Supreme Court decision sets the stakes for the November election. Now, the only way to save the country from ObamaCare’s budget-busting government takeover of health care is to elect a new president. Under President Obama’s signature legislation, health care costs continue to skyrocket, and up to 20 million Americans could lose their employer-based coverage. A panel of unelected bureaucrats now has the unprecedented authority to come between elderly patients and their doctors. Meanwhile, the rules and regulations placed on job creators and small businesses make it nearly impossible to hire new workers at a time when Americans desperately need jobs. We need market-based solutions that give patients more choice, not less. The answer to rising health care costs is not, and will never be, Big Government. We must elect a president who understands the economy, respects free enterprise, and can provide the leadership we now so desperately need. On Election Day, we must elect Mitt Romney and put America on the path toward a brighter economic future and successful health care reform.”

Get our email updates