Court ruling draws mixed reaction

Some praise Obamacare decision; Bachmann vows repeal fight

By ERIK SANDIN – Stillwater Gazette

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision Thursday upholding the 2010 health care law brought mixed reactions from St. Croix Valley politicians, labor groups and health organizations.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion and held that the law was a valid exercise of Congress’ power to tax.

Roberts re-framed the debate over health care as a debate over increasing taxes. Congress, he said. Is “increasing taxes” on those who choose to go uninsured.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Fourth District U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-St. Paul, both issued statements praising the high court’s decision.

“I am very pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to fully uphold the Affordable Care Act,” said the governor. “Today’s (Thursday) ruling will be met with relief by the Minnesotans whose lives have already been improved by this law.”

“Two years ago, I was proud to vote in support of the Affordable Care Act,” McCollum said. “Today’s historic Supreme Court decision affirms President Obama’s leadership to extend health care coverage to millions of Americans.”

HealthPartners President and CEO Mary Brainerd said the Supreme Court decision upholding the requirement that people have health insurance “makes sense.”

“Without that requirement, health care and health insurance would be less affordable for everyone because many wouldn’t buy insurance until they were already ill or needed coverage.”

But Sixth District U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, a vocal critic of the health care act, vowed to seek repeal of the law.

“I am deeply disappointed by the court’s decision,” she said. “Today’s Supreme Court decision raises the stakes for the coming months. Since Congress passed Obamacare in 2010, I have made its repeal my top priority.

“I disagree with the court’s ruling and expansion of government under the commerce clause,” she said. “Government should never have the right to tell Americans what they must purchase.”

On the labor front, SEIU officials praised the high court’s decision, saying justices “rejected the cynical approach of corporations and Republican extremists who consistently have put profits and politics ahead of working people.”

“The decision today is vitally important for working people trapped in the toughest economic crisis in a generation. Justices made the decision that now is not the time to slow down the benefits if the law that is making health care more affordable,” said Julie Schnell, president of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

HealthPartners’ Brainerd, however, cautioned that some changes in the health care law are needed.

“(A)djustments in the law are still needed to make sure that coverage is affordable,” she said. “In the current law, individuals and small employers will pay for more of the costs, and we are concerned about that. We also want individuals and families to have choices about the coverage that works best for their needs. Congressional action is needed to make important improvements to ensure affordability and choice.”

But Bachmann said Congress should replace Obamacare with a system allowing portability, giving people the right to buy health insurance across state lines and a plan of their own choice and tort reform.

“Every American should have the opportunity to provide health care for themselves and their family and the freedom to choose the plan that’s best for them,” she said. “Health care reforms should ensure families and doctors make health care decisions – no Washington bureaucrats and politicians.”

And Bachmann maintains Thursday’s high court ruling does not address the growing number of Americans who go without health care.

“Millions of Americans are still without access to affordable health care,” she said. “The Supreme Court’s decision didn’t change that.”

But McCollum said the court’s ruling should be a message to Obamacare opponents.

“It is now time for Republicans in Congress to end their vitriolic repeal campaign and work on effectively implementing this law,” she said.