U.S. Supreme Court health care decision
New Hampshire political reaction to health care ruling split along party linesBy JOHN DiSTASO
Senior Political Reporter
June 28. 2012 11:42AM
Reaction to Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the key individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act was predictably split along party lines.
The three Republicans in New Hampshire's congressional delegation New Hampshire's and the two GOP candidates for governor said that although law's centerpiece is constitutional, it remains bad public policy.
Democrats, including outgoing Gov. John Lynch, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and the party's candidates for the U.S. House and governor hailed the ruling.
Republican U.S. Kelly Ayotte said:
'By imposing a coercive tax on the American people, the President's health care law represents an unprecedented federal overreach into individuals' personal lives. It fails to solve the fundamental problem with the nation's health care delivery system - the skyrocketing cost of care.
'Business owners across New Hampshire have told me that burdensome taxes and mandates in the law are keeping them from growing and hiring. If we don't repeal it, Americans can expect to see higher costs, less choice and fewer jobs,' Ayotte said.
'I will continue to fight to repeal this law and replace it with market-based reforms that reduce costs and expand consumer choice,' she said.
But Shaheen, the state's senior senator, said:
'This law is already helping thousands of people in New Hampshire and it's going to help thousands more. When it's fully implemented, it will mean a reformed system that addresses costs and improves security and stability in health care coverage. Congress should work together in a bipartisan way on health care.'
Republican U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass said:
'The Supreme Court ruled today that the President's health care law falls within the limits of our constitution because the mandate is a new tax on the American people, but that does not mean that it is right for America.
'While the ruling addresses the constitutionality of the law, it still does not address the fact that this law was passed without bipartisan support and was rushed through without the input and support of the American people,' said Bass. 'As a result, we have been left with a law that, while constitutional, is bad public policy, and still lacks the backing of a majority of Americans. Individuals and families have only seen rising health care costs and government bureaucrats injected into personal decisions previously reserved for doctors, patients, and families. Seniors will see $575 billion cut from Medicare and the dismantling of the popular Medicare Advantage program.
Bass continued, 'The small business owners I have met have only told me about the uncertainty surrounding the law's mandates, how it is driving up costs, and making it harder for them to hire new workers.
'Even with this ruling, I believe we still must work to replace this law and truly address both cost and access to quality health care, and do it in a manner that allows for the input of the American people and takes into account ideas from both sides of the aisle. I will continue to support reforms that allow children to remain on their parents' policies until 26 years of age, and that protect those with pre-existing conditions.
'Health care coverage has become too expensive for too many people, but I am confident that working together we can fix health care and come up with reforms that all Americans support.'
Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta said he will vote for repeal of the Affordable Care Act in two weeks, just as he did in January 2011. House leadership announced a repeal vote for the week of July 9.
'Although I am not pleased with the ruling, I respect the Supreme Court's decision," he said. "I have spoken out about this law's excesses ever since Congress passed it two years ago. One of the very first votes I cast in the House was to repeal it in its entirety.
'While questions about its constitutionality are now resolved, there are still problems with this law. For example, it will cut $580 billion from Medicare over the next 10 years. And its ability to effectively deliver genuine health care reform remains unanswered,' said Guinta.
'I am ready to sit down with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle and health care community members to amend this law as needed. One of the first things I will do now is meet with health care professionals here in New Hampshire, as I frequently do, and get their input on the best way to proceed.'
Bass and Guinta on Thursday e-mailed supporters immediately after the ruling asking for contributions to their campaigns as a way of stopping the health care law.
Former U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, Guinta's Democratic opponent in 2010 and again this year, worked on the Affordable Care Act and was at the White House for the signing.
'Americans won today when the Supreme Court upheld the health care law,' she said. 'Millions of our citizens will now be guaranteed access to health care. When I went to Congress, I promised to fight for health care for all Americans. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and satisfaction that my colleagues and I, working with President Obama, were able to finally accomplish what so many Republicans and Democrats tried to do for so long- make sure that all Americans had access to medical care.'
Ann McLane Kuster, Bass's Democratic opponent in 2010 and again this year, said the decision 'affirms my faith that when we put partisan politics aside, we are able to act in the best interest of the American people.
'As a result of the ruling, millions of Americans who could not otherwise afford health coverage and who deal daily with this uncertainty, will not have to worry about whether they will be refused insurance because of pre-existing conditions,' Kuster said. 'Young people, like my two sons, will be able to stay on their parent's healthcare until age 26, and will not need to carry this burden as they work to launch their careers. We have a long way to go to control costs in our health care system and to improve health care delivery, but this ruling represents groundbreaking progress for millions of Americans.'
Retiring Democratic Gov. John Lynch said:
'As a state, we have been preparing to implement the Affordable Care Act and will continue doing so in a way that best fits New Hampshire. The Act will help provide access to affordable health care to many more of our citizens, and help our small businesses with the high costs of health care. The Court's decision allows those important provisions to go forward.
'Creating greater access to affordable health care is a goal we should all be working together to achieve, and that is what I will continue to do,' said Lynch.
Republican candidate for governor Ovide Lamontagne said:
'Today's Supreme Court ruling is truly a disappointment and represents an infringement on the freedoms and liberty of every citizen in New Hampshire, and throughout our country. The court ruling opens the door for continued federal intrusion into the lives of every American, further erodes the Tenth Amendment protections of the 50 states, and confirms what we already knew - that this law results in a massive tax hike on the middle class.
'Since I announced my candidacy for governor, I have made clear that opposing Obamacare is a top priority, and that if elected, I will take all steps necessary to oppose its implementation,' said Lamontagne. 'A mandatory one size fits all national approach to health care will not work, and certainly does nothing to address the ever increasing costs of health care, which is a pressing concern for New Hampshire families and businesses alike.'
Lamontagne continued, 'As Governor, I would join with like-minded governors across the country in continuing to fight by any means necessary federal overreach into this important sector of our economy. I will work to strengthen recently enacted state laws designed to exempt New Hampshire residents from many of the law's mandates. At the same time, I will use my experience in the health care field to bring together the state's health care, business, and community leaders with the goal of enacting market based solutions that will preserve individual choice and control health care costs.'
Fellow GOP candidate for governor Kevin Smith said:
'Although I'm disappointed that the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate, I'm encouraged that they struck down the expansion of Medicaid that would have been the precursor to a single-payer plan and bankrupted the states. This reinforces the fact that we need to focus on controlling health care costs, and not on over-regulating the health insurance system. It also reaffirms Medicaid's status as a state and federal partnership, and prevents a federal takeover of a system that is best managed by the state.
Smith continued, 'It's at the state level that the most innovative delivery of services for our most vulnerable citizens takes place. New Hampshire can most effectively and efficiently provide health care to its citizens. As Governor, I will work to protect the integrity of the Medicaid system and ensure that New Hampshire is providing a health care safety net for its neediest citizens.'
Democratic candidate for governor Maggie Hassan was 'pleased with this morning's Supreme Court decision, as it means that all Americans will have access to health care. People with preexisting conditions can get coverage, there will be no lifetime caps, preventative care is covered, the donut hole will close for seniors, and even more young adults can stay on their parent's health care plans until they turn 26.'
Fellow Democratic candidate for governor Jackie Cilley said:
"Today's Supreme Court decision puts behind us the hysterical claims of the far-right and allows us to get to work making sure that the Affordable Care Act works for everyone in New Hampshire. As governor, I'm confident that I'll be able to work with the Legislature and our representatives in D.C. to make sure that all the ACA reforms, including Medicaid expansion, serve the citizens of New Hampshire."
Cilley said, "This law expands health care coverage to thousands of those previously uninsured, and assures that all Americans will be beneficiaries of the many reforms contained in the detailed provisions of this bill, all of which the Supreme Court has definitively ruled as constitutional. While I will continue to review the provisions regarding the expansion of Medicaid eligibility -- to make sure there is no detrimental impact on our citizens, I believe June 28 is a day to remember as it marks the beginning of a new era in health care in the United States."
Also Thursday, New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Wayne MacDonald said the decision 'will have a major impact on the November election as it affirms that ObamaCare is essentially the largest tax increase in history. Even though President Obama said in 2009 that this bill is 'absolutely not a tax increase,' the truth has come out.
'The only way to overturn this monumental takeover of our health care system is to elect a new President,' said MacDonald. 'We need to repeal and replace this law.
'President Obama spent a year and a half constructing this bill while turning a blind eye to our economy,' said MacDonald. 'This law will create havoc for millions of Americans already uncertain about their financial and physical health going forward.
'Our country needs market-based solutions that give patients more choice with their healthcare options, rather than a panel of unelected bureaucrats calling the shots. The doctor to patient relationship should not have intervention from 'Big Government.
'We must elect a President who understands the economy, is a champion of free enterprise, and can turn this country around from the failures of the past three and a half years,' MacDonald said. 'Mitt Romney will put us on a path to economic recovery and successful health care reform.'
But New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Raymond Buckley said;
"This is a great day. President Obama worked with Democrats and Republicans to pass comprehensive health care reform based on the model created by Mitt Romney. The Affordable Care Act lowers the deficit; insures more Americans; and jump-started the process of controlling health care costs. The decision today means that insurance companies will no longer be able to deny people with preexisting conditions coverage, women won't be charged more, there will be no lifetime caps, preventative care is covered, the donut hole will close for seniors, and even more young adults can stay on their parent's health care plans until they turn 26.
"Instead of attacking, it's time for Republicans to tell us what their ideas are," said Buckley. "The only health care idea we've heard from the Republican candidates for governor is for a state takeover of Medicare, which would allow them to increase premiums on seniors by $6,000; raise the eligibility age for Medicare, and cut benefits."
At the State House, New Hampshire House speaker William O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, said:
'Obviously, many New Hampshire residents, including me, are very disappointed that the Supreme Court did not protect the freedoms of American citizens by striking down the individual mandate, forcing people to buy government-approved health insurance, to pay a tax, or to face jail time. This undercuts a fundamental principle of our liberty and makes us a less free country than we were before.
"However, " said O'Brien, "I have great confidence that if our institutions will not protect our freedom, then the people will rise up and do it ourselves. We saw that begin in the elections of 2010, and I fully anticipate that we will see this continued this November. Where you stand on ObamaCare will now be a top issue that every candidate for federal and state office will need to answer, and the House will move forward in our efforts to stop this misguided law that robs our independence and will make health care less affordable and less accessible.'
O'Brien added, 'We will also need to carefully review the impact of this ruling on our Medicaid program, and determine how we will move forward in a way that will not demand any greater burden is put on state taxpayers.'
House Majority Leader Pete Silva, R-Nashua, said:
'Today's ruling means that Republicans, conservatives, and anybody who wants their freedom protected will become active in this year's elections. We have a clear contrast in views about whether we want a one-size-fits-all, government run health care system that hurts Medicare, limits patients' choices and requires constant direction from Washington bureaucrats or if we want states like New Hampshire to set health care policy.
" Now is the time for people who care about our future, our seniors and our liberty to get involved and elect candidates who will end this disastrous law and bring balanced, patient-focused health care to the citizens of New Hampshire,' said Silva.
Republican former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu said the decision "is a sobering reminder of the need for new leadership in Washington. This massive government overreach is bad for businesses, patients and future generations of Americans who will be burdened with unsustainable debt and increased government intrusion into their personal lives. Mitt Romney believes in free markets and constitutional limits on government power, and has promised to repeal and replace Obamacare on day one of his administration. Washington needs a new leader who will allow states to determine the type of healthcare reform that best suits their constituents' needs without taking a one-size-fits-all approach that kills jobs and discourages free enterprise and I am confident Mitt Romney is that leader.'