Alabama leaders react to SCOTUS ruling on Obamacare

Alabama leaders react to SCOTUS ruling on Obamacare

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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

As the United States Supreme Court announced their decision on the Affordable Care Act, Alabamians started their reaction to the ruling.

Governor Robert Bentley released this statement shortly after the decision was handed down:

"I am deeply disappointed by today's Supreme Court decision.  The health care law is an overreach by the federal government that creates more regulation, bureaucracy, and a dramatic increase in costs to taxpayers.  The ACA is the single worst piece of legislation to come out of Congress.  This law must be repealed.

People need more choices, not fewer choices.  Bigger government is not the answer.  Market-based solutions are the best solutions to giving the public the most affordable options."

Congressman Robert Aderholt also issued a comment with resentment of the decision:

"Most Americans agree that the President's health care law is taking America down the wrong path and government mandated health care is not what they want. Health care decisions that are made at the federal level only make it more difficult for small businesses and families to afford quality coverage. Putting health care decisions in the hands of unelected Washington bureaucrats and using taxpayer dollars to provide for abortions is simply bad policy. My concern is the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the majority of the President's health care law is a devastating step toward socialized medicine for our nation."

"House Republicans will continue to work to repeal the President's flawed health care law, so that we enact common-sense, step-by-step reforms that protect Americans access to the care they need, from the doctors they choose, at a lower cost. I think you will see House Republicans act quickly once again to fully repeal the law and implement patient-centered reforms that ensure families and doctors make health care decisions."

The Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, Bill Armistead, released this statement:

"Today's decision by the United States Supreme Court has essentially created the largest tax increase in American history. There is no need to refer to it as Obamacare from this point forward. It is now the Obama Health Care Tax. This tax will continue to make it harder for small businesses to hire more workers, during a time when Alabamians desperately need jobs. Without a change in leadership, Americans will continue to suffer under an over-reaching, out-of-touch federal government. Polls have consistently shown that this piece of legislation, that was jammed down our throats by Obama and Congressional Democrats, is wildly unpopular and should be repealed.

"We need a President in the White House who understands that market-based solutions that offer patients more choice, not less, is the answer to rising health care costs. Governor Romney has made it clear that the primary objective on his first day as President will be to fully repeal this tax and start over.  The stakes have never been higher for a  general election. It is now up to the American people to ensure the repeal of this tax by electing Mitt Romney as our next President on November 6th."

Alabama's Attorney General mirrored the statements of disappointment with this statement:

"While I respect the Court's decision, I strongly disagree with its ruling today.  The individual mandate was sold to the American people as a penalty when it was proposed, but is now ruled constitutional as a tax, the very thing the Obama Administration and Congress insisted it was not.  Now it is up to a new congress and new president to repeal the act.

Make no mistake, the consequences of today's decision are dire.  The law forces the states, private employers and individuals to be used as instruments in carrying out the federal government's increasingly burdensome policies, including forcing religious based employers, even self-insured ones, to start providing coverage for sterilization and contraception in 2013, without regard to their  religious beliefs or conscientious objections.

I, along with other conservative state attorneys general, will continue to stand on the front lines of protecting liberty and pushing back against an ever-encroaching federal government."

Rosemary Elebash, the Alabama state director of the National Foundation of Independent Business, made the following statement:

"While we're 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.

"NFIB is concerned about the precedent this will set in Congress' ability to mandate other aspects of our lives, but we'll move forward from today to continue to fight, harder than ever, for real health-care reform for our membership. 

"Under the health-care law, small-business owners are going to face an onslaught of taxes and mandates, resulting in job loss and closed businesses. NFIB will continue to fight for the repeal of health-care in the halls of Congress. Only with a full repeal of the law 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."

The Alabama Hospital Association issued this statement on the ruling:

"Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Florida v. HHS, related to the Affordable Care Act. Basically, the entire Affordable Care Act was upheld, with the exception of a narrow reading of the Medicaid expansion provisions.  In its ruling, the Court decided that the individual mandate is not constitutional under the Commerce Clause, but is validated as a tax, thus upholding the provision.  It also stated that while the federal government may offer incentives to state Medicaid programs with requirements that they comply with specific rules, it cannot punish states that choose not to participate.

Regardless of opinions about the Affordable Care Act, one thing is for certain … eliminating only sections of it would have been disastrous as many of them are dependent on the others.  If any one of the major sections had been disallowed, it could have had severe consequences for the overall implementation.  For example, under the Affordable Care Act, the payments made to hospitals to cover the cost of caring for the uninsured are scheduled to be reduced as more Americans obtain health care coverage.  If the individual mandate or the Medicaid expansion had been struck, hospitals would have found themselves caring for patients without adequate reimbursement.

Despite what could have happened today or what Congress may do in the future, the way health care is delivered will continue to evolve with an increased emphasis on improved care and reduced costs.  Alabama's hospitals are committed to this vision and have made significant progress in this area.  In fact, in the latest analysis of federal information, Alabama ranked number one in the nation with regard to hospital achievement and improvement on CMS quality and patient safety measures (calculations made for CMS's value-based purchasing).  Alabama's hospitals are also very efficient.  In the latest report from Cleverly and Associates, Alabama's hospitals were ranked the fifth lowest in the country on their cost per Medicare discharge."

The Medical Association of the State of Alabama issued this statement of strong opposition to the law:

"The Medical Association opposed the health care reform law when it was before Congress two years ago and will continue to oppose the law going forward.  There are numerous provisions in the law that will endanger access to care and threaten the quality of care, including the creation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the lack of sustainability in the Medicare program and the absence of any meaningful medical liability reforms.

Though the health care reform law was upheld by the Supreme Court today, the Medical Association's fight against proposals that would harm the practice of medicine and the doctor-patient relationship remains unchanged.  We and other organizations representing the health care industry were successful in getting Congress to repeal the onerous 1099 provision that was also part of the health care reform law.  Going forward, we must take same approach.  If the American health care system is to remain the best health care system in the world, Congress must pass legislation that empowers patients and their physicians with making health care decisions, not the government or any third party.

Given there has not been adequate time for an in-depth analysis of the ruling, further examination is necessary to determine exactly what this ruling will mean for health care in Alabama."

The Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, Judge Mark Kennedy, issued this statement with support of the Supreme Court's decision:

"In a week full of historic rulings by the Supreme Court of the United States, the court's decision on the Affordable Care Act will have the widest impact on the most Americans of any in recent history.  Make no mistake: this is a great step forward for our country.

The Obama administration has shown remarkable foresight with this historic piece of legislation, addressing a pressing problem that individual states have refused to deal with.  President Obama has made it clear that his priorities include both the well being of every American as well as the fiscal future of our country.  Not only will the Affordable Care Act reduce the deficit by over $100 billion, studies have shown that repealing the law will actually add to the deficit by approximately $50 billion. 

It is unfortunate that Alabama's Republican leaders oppose an initiative which will enormously benefit hundreds of thousands of Alabamians.  Governor Bentley has already put out a statement today, saying "this law must be repealed."  I cannot disagree more.  Over one million Alabamians have found themselves uninsured at some point in the past two years.  With this law, each and every one of them will now have affordable access to healthcare.  The irony of the Republican outcry against this law should not go unnoticed, as the Republican supermajority in the Alabama legislature has passed the buck on health issues time and time again.

This is a great day for both our state and our country.  Every Alabamian can now rest easy knowing they can afford the healthcare they need and deserve."

Former Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore showed disdain for the ruling in his statement:

"Perhaps the week before July 4th is an appropriate time to recognize the tyranny of the federal government that is now upon us.  The recent history of our federal government, to quote the Declaration of Independence, 'is a history of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.' When the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court says that government may 'tax' individuals for health care, what is next--mandated life, home, and auto insurance? In ObamaCare, all three branches of government have ignored the Constitution and especially the 10th Amendment, which protects the rights of the states and the people to direct their own destinies.  A return to God and the United States Constitution is the only hope for the future of our Country."

Democratic Congresswoman Terri Sewell expressed her approval of the ruling in this statement:

"I am delighted that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the landmark Affordable Care Act. This is a monumental victory for the American people and our country. Today's ruling confirms what I have always believed that healthcare in America should be a right and not a privilege. I applaud President Obama's leadership and steadfast commitment to improving the lives of our families, children and seniors.

As a result of today's decision, millions of Americans will continue to have access to healthcare benefits and protections, which are so critical to the welfare and economic stability of our nation. Because of the Affordable Care Act, Americans will no longer have to live in fear of being denied healthcare coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Millions of young people across our nation will be able to stay on their parent's insurance plans, seniors will continue paying less for their prescription drugs, and women and children will have access to vital preventative care.  33 million uninsured Americans can expect to receive quality affordable healthcare insurance without having to make the difficult choice between providing for their families or getting necessary medical treatment.

By affirming the Affordable Care Act, the 7th Congressional District of Alabama will continue to benefit from healthcare reform. In our district, 36,000 children with pre-existing health conditions can no longer be denied coverage by their health insurers, 90,000 adults and 19,000 children will have health insurance that covers preventative care services and 6,800 young adults will continue to have access to health insurance through their parent's coverage.

I remain committed to working with the President Obama and my colleagues to ensure that all Americans continue to have access to quality affordable healthcare."

U.S. Representative Martha Roby showed disappointment with her comments:

"I respect the authority of the Supreme Court, but I disagree and am deeply disappointed with its decision today.

"The Court's opinion is lengthy and complicated, and will require careful evaluation. However, we know that the Court today has affirmed the view that President Obama's law represents a huge tax on the American people, and that it is through the federal government's power to levy taxes that the Court upheld the law as constitutional.

"In my opinion, that legal analysis is dubious and cause for concern given the dangerous precedent it sets: can the government now require Americans to purchase government-approved goods and services or else face the threat of a tax? What we do know, however, is that the Court put restraint on the power of Congress to mandate the purchase of goods and services under the commerce clause.

"The court ruled on the legal issues, not the wisdom of the policy. The American people have already weighed in and overwhelmingly rejected this law. As a whole, the law, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts will cost $2.6 trillion and will result in as many as 20 million Americans losing their existing coverage, remains deeply unpopular with the public.

"The President's health care reform has proven ineffective at reducing the cost of health care, has suffocated small businesses, and has hampered job creation. Despite the court's ruling, I remain committed to working toward the repeal of this harmful law. We will again vote to repeal the law in the House of Representatives on July 9, we should immediately begin deliberate work to replace the law with free market reforms that truly improve access to quality and affordable care. Individual Americans and their doctors, not federal bureaucrats and politicians, are in the best position to determine which health care options best meet their individual needs."

Stay with this story for more statements on the healthcare ruling as they become available.

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