Politicians and groups from around the state issued statements regarding the Supreme Court's decision upholding "Obamacare" Thursday morning.
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) said, “The Supreme Court may have failed to declare the entire health-care law unconstitutional, but it is still an historic mistake that expanded a health-care system we already knew we couldn’t afford. Congress should repeal the law and then proceed step by step to reduce the cost of health care so more Americans can afford to buy insurance.”
Congressman Chuck Fleischmann said, “The Supreme Court made the wrong decision today. The Constitution places specific limits on the government, and the court unfortunately did not recognize those limits in allowing Obamacare to stand. While the Supreme Court may consider the individual mandate a tax, the Obama administration repeatedly claimed that this was not a tax when they tried to pass Obamacare. Like many conservatives, I believe the individual mandate cannot be justified as a tax. Not only does Obamacare force Americans to buy insurance whether they want it or not, but it also forces Americans to subsidize birth control even if it violates their faith. Additionally, the law creates IPAB, the Independent Payment Advisory Board. This board is anything but advisory. It has the power to control Medicare payments, and its decisions carry the full force of law.
“The results of Obamacare are clear: Higher healthcare costs, hundreds of billions in tax increases, top down government control of healthcare, and a continuation of our massive deficits. Now, it is time for Congressional Republicans to demonstrate our commitment to smaller government, and continue the fight to repeal Obamacare. Our healthcare, our nation’s finances, and our national character demand nothing less.”
Governor Bill Haslam
said, "We will review the entire Supreme Court’s opinion to fully understand its impact on the State of Tennessee. From initial reports, it appears the individual mandate has been ruled Constitutional and has been upheld.
"My primary issues with ObamaCare are that it takes away the flexibility for states to encourage healthy behavior, will cost Tennessee hundreds of millions of dollars, and does nothing to solve the crisis of the cost of health care in America.
"What was unanticipated is the section of the opinion that says states cannot be forced to expand their Medicaid program. This particular portion of the ruling is significant, but it is premature to know the exact ramifications.
"Now it is up to Tennesseans and Americans to turn their attention to the November election. By electing Mitt Romney, we can be sure that the entire law will be repealed.”
Senator Bob Corker, R-Tn., said, “Today’s ruling makes it clear that it’s up to Congress to replace the president’s health care law with common sense reforms that our nation and its citizens can afford."
State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) said, "The Supreme Court saved Congress from its cowardly refusal to call a 'tax' a 'tax.' I hope the U.S. Senate will join the House in voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act and its mandate that individuals purchase health insurance."
"I'm glad the Court upheld Tennessee's freedom to design its own Medicaid program with no fear of losing existing funds. Even our own former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen called the Affordable Care Act 'the mother of all unfunded mandates' and estimated it would cost Tennessee taxpayers over $1 billion in the next five years. I don't know where that money would have come from. With this decision, the Tennessee budget remains on solid footing."
Representative Scott DesJarlais, M.D. (Tn.-04) said, “This is a sad day for health care, personal freedom and those opposed to the intrusion of big government into their lives. This was a law that we did not ask for, do not need and cannot afford. Today’s ruling does not change the fact that ObamaCare is still bad for patients, bad for taxpayers and destructive to our nation’s health care system. It is now even more critical that we move forward in fully repealing this law and instituting step-by-step, patient-centered solutions that will lower medical costs and expand access to care.
“Today’s ruling confirms what House Republicans have been saying from the beginning: ObamaCare is now officially the biggest tax increase in American history.”
Bill Taylor, Democratic candidate for Congress in the 3rd District said that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act this morning is “a victory for the common man.”
"The ACA was created to stop the unfair advantage that insurance companies have gained over people’s ability to afford healthcare. Our country currently ranks 37th in the world in terms of quality of healthcare. This decision will help us move forward in creating a system of affordable, quality care that is available to everyone. There is still work to be done to make the healthcare system more efficient and workable. As an expert in healthcare, I can help to move this process forward in Congress in a leadership way.”
House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) said, “I am disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision today. As states struggle to make ends meet, this law passes down an unfunded mandate of immense proportions. Fortunately, here in Tennessee, we anticipated this possibility and set aside additional funding to mitigate the initial impact.
“The decision does, however, strengthen my resolve to keep an out of control federal government at bay so that individual freedoms are protected. Individuals—not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.—are best equipped to make their own decisions when it comes to health care. Electing Mitt Romney will be a positive first step in seeing this law repealed.
“The Medicaid portion raises many questions regarding the impact on Tennessee, and we will carefully analyze that part of the decision. Over the coming months we will carefully study how this law impacts our state and what needs to be done.”
Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.-09) said, “This is a dark day in our history. While I'm disappointed in the Supreme Court's decision, I'm more resolved than ever to repealing this law in its entirety."
"First the President told us the individual mandate was not a tax. Now, the high court is telling us it is a tax. What's clear from today's ruling is there are now no limits to how the federal government can tax the American people. This is not the America I know and love."
“House Republicans are firmly commited to removing this entire law. Once that work is done, and the nightmare known as Obamacare is fully behind us, we must engage in a thoughtful, common-sense approach to reforming health care in America. Any reforms we undertake pertaining to health care must let families make their own health choices and preserve the doctor-patient relationship. It’s time for a patient-centered, patient-driven, free market-focused solution for health care.”
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey said, "It is intensely disappointing that this court failed to recognize what constitutionalists and conservatives know deep in their hearts: A federal government which can coerce its people to buy a product is a government unrestrained and out of control. Democrat Governor Phil Bredesen called Obamacare the 'mother of all unfunded mandates' and stated it will cost Tennesseans 1.1 billion dollars in the next few years. However, the fight does not end here. The court may have made its decision today but the people have yet to speak. When they do, Mitt Romney will be elected president and I will do all I can to aid him as he fulfills his solemn promise to repeal this insidious law."
Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Smith said, “Thousands of Hamilton County residents cannot afford healthcare under the current system. Those with emergency situations or chronic illnesses are forced to go to emergency rooms, endangering their health and costing all taxpayers millions of dollars,” he said. “Republicans, because of their fundraising ties to big insurance and pharmaceutical companies, have consistently refused to address this problem in an honest, realistic way. This ruling shows that the leadership demonstrated by the Democratic Party is not only compassionate but completely constitutional.”
Leadership to move the ACA forward is now called for on the county, state and congressional level, Smith said. “Gov. Haslam has dragged his feet on implementation, and now Tennessee is behind. We need leaders in Nashville that will help all Tennesseans achieve affordable care. We also have two Democratic Congressional candidates who are both experts in healthcare. Hamilton County voters should keep this important issue in mind as they evaluate who will be knowledgeable leaders, rather than obstructionist opposition.”
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said, “Getting rid of ObamaCare is now in the hands of the American people, and we can accomplish that by electing Mitt Romney President in November. Today’s Supreme Court decision will increase the determination of Tennessee Republicans to defeat President Obama and put an end to his reckless policies that have failed to address the economy and are only making things worse.”
Tennessee Young Democrats President Sean Braisted said, “The 2010 Affordable Care Act allows for hundreds of thousands of young Americans to stay on their parent’s health insurance throughout college and as they start out life on their own. This provision alone has saved thousands of lives of people who previously could not have afforded care for chronic illnesses or emergencies.
“I am extremely pleased with the Supreme Court decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and allow the state and federal governments to move forward with implementing key provisions that will expand access to affordable care for millions of working families across America and in Tennessee.
“Republicans have already shown they are still going to stick their heads in the sand and vote to repeal a law passed by a majority of Congress, signed by the President, and affirmed by a Supreme Court majority led by the Republican-appointed Chief Justice.
“Americans and Tennesseans deserve better. We need leaders who will work in a bi-partisan fashion to further enhance and expand the Affordable Care Act to drive health care prices even lower and hold large insurance companies accountable, not the political theater being offered by the Republican leadership in Tennessee and in Washington.
A statement from the Young Democrats of Georgia said, "This morning, the Supreme Court rightfully upheld the constitutionality of President Obama's Affordable Care Act in a vote that brought conservative and liberal Justices together. The Young Democrats of Georgia applaud this judicial decision, and are elated that the incredibly important provisions of the Affordable Care Act, especially those that impact Georgia's young people, will remain in effect.
"Young Georgians will continue to benefit from President Obama's Affordable Care Act, particularly those provisions that allow them to stay on their parents' insurance up until age 26 and forbid discrimination against people based on any preexisting conditions they may have," said YDG President Louis Elrod. "While we are grateful for the decision, we know that there will still be obstacles ahead as those who disagree will continue to obstruct progress. We are ready to fight to protect this decision, and do all that we can to ensure that President Obama is reelected to a second term so that he can continue to fight for the progressive change this country deserves."
Beth Uselton, executive director of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, said "With this landmark decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has marked the end of partisan political games to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act. There are no more excuses for delay. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and it is time for state lawmakers to start taking responsibility for ensuring that Tennessee families have the rights and protections guaranteed to them by the law."
Jim Brown, state director of NFIB/Tennessee said, “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.
"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 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 Beacon Center of Tennessee, the state’s free market think tank and advocate for patient-centered healthcare reform, issued the following statement:
"We are deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court chose to uphold President Obama’s healthcare law and drastically expand the federal government's authority over our lives. The law is unaffordable and irresponsible, and places far too much control in the hands of unelected bureaucrats in Washington.
"While it is incumbent upon Congress to repeal this law, we simply cannot wait on politicians in Washington to act. Instead, we look forward to working with our state leaders to advance people-centered solutions to fix our healthcare woes. We are also committed to protecting taxpayers from the harmful impact of the president’s law.
"The state-led healthcare solutions promoted by Beacon will put control of important decisions back into the hands of patients and their doctors where they belong. Our solutions include giving individuals the same tax treatment for the purchase of health insurance as companies, providing for more portability in their plans; allowing Tennesseans to purchase health insurance from other states; and expanding access to clinics that serve the poor.
Wiley T. Robinson, MD, president of the Tennessee Medical Association, said, “Until the Supreme Court made its decision, we had to take tentative steps toward change. Today’s decision allows us to make more definitive plans regarding reforms to our healthcare system in Tennessee.
"We are surprised by this ruling but have been working to develop resources for our members to explain the Affordable Care Act provisions that will impact their patients and their practices.
"While the decision has a certain finality, we all need to understand that healthcare reform remains a fluid process. The TMA stands by the principles it feels are necessary to create a better environment for patients and physicians.
"Physicians remain concerned about the lack of efforts to reduce wasteful hassles and regulations, the creation of an unaccountable, dictatorial oversight board (IPAB), lawsuit abuse, the unwillingness of Congress to fix the Medicare fee schedule for physicians, the limited supply of physicians to care for an expanded patient base, and the rights of patients to choose who provides their medical care.
"As healthcare reform continues to evolve, the TMA will stay focused on supporting what we see as helpful to our patients and fighting those provisions that threaten good medicine.”
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said, “The Supreme Court affirmed what a majority of Congress and the President already knew; that the Affordable Care Act is a constitutionally appropriate response to the health care crisis facing Tennessee families. Because of President Obama’s leadership, millions of working families, including a half a million Tennesseans, will have access to doctors and affordable health care.
“The Affordable Care Act is law, and will continue to be the law of the land. We should all come together and work in a bipartisan fashion, as did the Supreme Court, in order to ensure that all Tennesseans can take advantage of the provisions in the law that provide health and financial security, such as:
- Millions of young adults will still be able to stay on their family's plan until they're 26.
- Many seniors will continue to save $600 a year on their prescription drugs.
- Insurance companies no longer have unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women more than men.
- Soon, no American will ever again be denied care or charged more due to a pre-existing condition, like cancer or even asthma.
- By August, millions of Americans will receive a rebate because their insurance company spent too much of their premium on administrative costs or CEO bonuses.
Senator Mae Beavers, Chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee and sponsor of the Tennessee Health Freedom Act, said, “I am disappointed in the Court’s ruling today. I still believe that punishing a Tennessean for failing to purchase a particular product that the federal government believes they must purchase simply for being a citizen is an action that would make our forefathers turn over in their graves. Thankfully, the Court seemed to agree with me and Rep. Elam and Rep. Pody on the Commerce Clause issue, which should prove helpful in future policy debates, even if they found the health care act constitutional on tax grounds.”
“I hope we can pass the Health Care Compact next year in Tennessee, and I look forward to working with Rep. Elam, Rep. Pody and other conservative lawmakers who hope to lower health care costs and raise quality in an efficient and constitutional manner,” said Senator Beavers.
Rep. Linda Elam said, “As an attorney and a defender of the Constitution, I am disappointed that the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, but am grateful that they seemed to interpret the Commerce Clause to more accurately reflect the true intent of our Constitution,” said Rep. Elam. “It was an honor to work on such an important piece of legislation last year; now I hope that Congress will overturn Obamacare, and I look forward to working to lower health care costs in a constitutional and appropriate way for Tennesseans, increasing choice and keeping the quality of our medical care the best in the world.”
Rep. Mark Pody said, “I hope that today’s important ruling lets the federal government know that they still do not have free reign when it comes to their power, and that our great country will not see its health care system fall the way of Europe and other counties who have witnessed the horrors associated with socialist systems."
“It is time for the legislature to start focusing on results and not politics. Tennesseans want our elected officials to move past the partisan bickering over health reforms and get to work on creating jobs and growing our economy.