WASHINGTON–Louisiana’s congressional delegation responded in parts with praise while Republicans pledged to push forward with a full repeal of the health care law.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said the Supreme Court affirmed accurately the law so the public-private health care delivery can make health care services more affordable and equitable.
“It reduces the deficit by more than $1 trillion over 20 years, provides security to millions of middle class and low-income Americans who need and depend on affordable health care that now cannot be taken away, and over the long run, will improve health outcomes for our entire population,” Landrieu said in a prepared statement. “Now that the Supreme Court has made this clear by its ruling, it is the obligation of the states to fully implement and expedite the Affordable Care Act.”
Landrieu touted the impacts on Louisiana specifically, such as insuring more than 53,000 young adults in the state up to age 26, saving Louisiana seniors more than $53 million on prescriptions, offering free preventative services like mammograms and cervical cancer scans to 275,000 women in the state, and potentially covering more than 500,000 working adults in the state through the expansion of Medicaid.
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, favorably compared Thursday’s ruling offer health-care access to all Americans to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling that started the end of school segregation.
“When Americans look back on this decision many years from now, we can say we were a part of history,”Richmondsaid in a prepared statement. “We chose to put the needs of the everyday American first.”
As forLouisiana’s Republicans, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., took to the Senate floor to denounce the ruling written by Chief Justice John Roberts.
Vitter criticized the court for “completely re-characterizing the individual mandate … as a tax” rather than ruling on it from a commerce standpoint as was anticipated. He called it “particularly worrisome” the court “did back flips to rewrite the law” to authorize the health care penalty and mandate as a tax.
Given that decision though, Vitter said, “This is a massive tax increase on the middle class.”
If viewed as a tax, Vitter said the Senate next year – if GOP nominee Mitt Romney is elected president – potentially could repeal the health care law with just 50 votes and the vice president’s tiebreaker through the budgetary “reconciliation process” rather than a necessary 60 votes through others means.
The non-profit, non-partisan Tax Foundation inWashington,D.C.also argued the Supreme Court erred by making the individual mandate penalty a tax, although the foundation did not call for the repeals or unconstitutionality of the law. The foundation contends the ruling expands the definition of a tax.
“The Court was incorrect to reject the widely-accepted definition of ‘tax’ as an exaction imposed for the primary purpose of raising revenue for general spending. There has been no development in law that necessitates such a far-reaching change,” said Tax Foundation Vice President for Legal Projects Joseph Henchman.
U.S.Reps. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson; Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia; and John Fleming, R-Minden, were among the elected officials criticizing the ruling in front of the Supreme Court.
Landry also seized on the tax wording and called Thursday a “tragic day” forAmerica.
“It was sold to the American people as a mandate and not a tax,” Landry said. “This tax must be repealed.”
Scalise also said the ruling shows Obama lied because the penalty of not buying insurance for many under the individual mandate is now a tax.
“But the American people are going on have their say on the first Tuesday in November,” Scalise said of the Nov. 6 election date.
Fleming said the health care law is “despised” by most Americans and he pledged to help “repeal Obamacare lock, stock and barrel and pull it out by its roots.”
“What we want are more consumer choices and not government mandates,” Fleming said.
U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, wasted little time in sending out an email to supporters seeking campaign donations to assist him in the fight against the health care law. He described himself as “disappointed” but “motivated.”
“(Thursday’s) Supreme Court ruling to uphold Obamacare will not deter my efforts or those of House Republicans to replace it with something that provides affordable, quality health care,” Cassidy stated.
Outside ofLouisiana, some sought to further politicize the issue with Obama and Romney.
“The Supreme Court upheld that Romneycare is constitutional,” said U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., comparing Obama’s law to the one Romney pushed as governor ofMassachusetts.
As for Romney himself, the GOP nominee pledged to “act to repeal Obamacare” starting with his first day in office if elected.
Romney said the health care law is bad policy and will force many Americans to change their insurance. “Obamacare puts the federal government between you and your doctor,” he said.
Obama said the Supreme Court decision will allow the health care law to move forward with “common-sense protection for middle-class Americans.”
“No illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin,” Obama said, adding that people will no longer need to “live in fear” they will lose health insurance coverage if they lose their jobs.
Obama admitted it is not always popular to force people who can afford it to buy health insurance. “I didn’t do this because I believed it was good politics,” he said. “I did this because I believed it was good for the American people.”
On the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., took turns praising and criticizing the health care law, respectively.
Reid said people will be insured “regardless of where they live and how much they make.” He said Republicans want “to give the power of life and death back to the insurance companies.”
McConnell said it is time to move past the Supreme Court ruling and focus on Congress repealing the law.
House Republicans have already scheduled a July 11 repeal vote.
“Americans were promised lower health care costs and they’re going up. Americans were promised lower premiums and they’re going up,” McConnell said.
“The supposed cure has proven worse than the disease,” he said.