As you've no doubt heard by now, the United States Supreme Court announced its 5-4 decision this morning upholding the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. It goes without saying that this decision is a major victory for Obama and Democrats, and constitutes major egg in the face of Washington Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, who was part of a group of attorney generals seeking to overturn the law.
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's health care law, including the most disputed part: the mandate that virtually all Americans have health insurance or pay a fine. The mandate was upheld under the federal government's power to levy taxes.
The ruling put some limits on the law's plan to expand the Medicaid insurance program for the poor, a joint effort of the federal government and states. It says the U.S. government cannot threaten to withhold a state's entire Medicaid allotment if it doesn't participate in the expansion.
Below you'll find some links to local and national coverage of the decision, followed by a copy of the ruling itself.
LINK: House Speaker John Boehner is already bitching, saying the ruling shows the law needs to be repealed.
LINK: KING 5 has a collection of reactions from local lawmakers, from Sen. Patty Murray to Rep. Doc Hastings.
LINK: Speaking of the Washington Post, the paper tries to put into perspective what the decision and the now upheld law means for you and your family.
LINK: KING 5 says local Democrats are relieved by the ruling. Shocking development.
Here's the full SCOTUS decision:
Local reactions to the Supreme Court's decision can be found on the following pages.
Gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Rob McKenna puts his spin on the situation:
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF WASHINGTON
1125 Washington Street SE · PO Box 40100 · Olympia WA 98504-0100
June 28, 2012
Supreme Court upholds health care law
OLYMPIA - Today the US Supreme Court upheld the 2010 Affordable Care Act. In a close decision, with multiple opinions, the Court ruled that the federal requirement to purchase health insurance--specifically a plan dictated by government regulators - does not violate the Constitution.
The states argued that the Constitution's Commerce Clause allows Congress to regulate commerce among the states but does not allow it to force Americans to engage in commerce. A majority of the Court agreed but the Court ultimately ruled that the mandate is constitutional under Congress's taxing power.
"Our system of government provides a series of checks and balances, allowing new laws--especially ones that raise major constitutional questions--to be tested in court," said Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna. "While we're disappointed that this close decision did not find in the states' favor with regard to the individual mandate, the country benefits from a thoughtful debate about the reach of federal power into the legal rights of the states and the personal financial decisions of all Americans."
A majority of the Court also agreed with states' argument that the federal government may not take away existing Medicaid funds from states that choose not to participate in the expansion of the Medicaid program.
"Nothing in our opinion precludes Congress from offering funds under the ACA to expand the availability of health care, and requiring that states accepting such funds comply with the conditions on their use," the Court wrote. "What Congress is not free to do is to penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding."
"Now the federal government must treat the states as equal partners, as both seek to provide health coverage for the poor," said McKenna.
The case was brought by attorneys general of 26 states including Washington, along with the National Federation of Independent Business.
Find more reactions on the following pages ...
Here's Jay Inslee's take:
SEATTLE - Jay Inslee's statement on the United States Supreme Court's vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act:
"Today, in a majority ruling by Justices appointed by Presidents of both parties, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act.
What this means for Washingtonians is that insurance companies can no longer deny people coverage based on pre-existing conditions; there can be no caps on lifetime coverage; young men and women just starting out on their career paths can stay on their parents' insurance until the age of 26; and prescription drugs will become more affordable with the closing of the so-called Medicare "donut hole."
The Supreme Court upheld this law despite enormous political pressure by Republican Attorneys General from around the country who tried to make this a partisan, political issue.
It is my hope that Republicans do not see today's ruling as an opportunity for further partisan bickering. Instead, we need both parties to finally come together and make this law work for the American people.
Now, with this issue settled by the Supreme Court, let's all focus on the most pressing issue we face - getting our economy moving again by creating good-paying jobs for the middle-class."
Find reactions from the Seattle City Council on the following page ...
The Seattle City Council issued a statement in support of the decision:
Seattle City Councilmembers support Supreme Court ruling
on Affordable Health Care Act
SEATTLE - Seattle City Councilmembers today celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling to uphold the Affordable Health Care Act:
"I applaud the Supreme Court's careful review of the arguments," stated Council President Sally J. Clark. "Coverage for all Americans is critical to urban places, as well as rural. Now we have work to do to ensure health care outcomes improve along with coverage."
"The Supreme Court chose logic over politics with this decision," stated Councilmember Nick Licata, chair of the Human Services, Health and Culture committee. "Now Washington voters must let their state leaders know if they support the expansion of the Medicaid allotment."
"I am pleased with the Supreme Court's ruling this morning," said Councilmember Tim Burgess. "We can now focus on the improvements necessary to make comprehensive health care affordable, efficient and effective for all Americans."
"This is an extraordinary opportunity to reshape our health care system by combining quality health care with affordable health care," added Councilmember Richard Conlin. "Seattle is working with our local providers to reshape our local system to ensure that all of us - including the least, the lost, and the left-behind, will share the blessings of healthy lives."
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw added, "I have longed for today's headline. Four years ago, Obama said, 'Yes we can' and today five Supreme Court Justices said, 'Yes we will' to affordable health care. At long last, all Americans will have choices and accessibility to a health plan. Thank goodness."
"I think that we always knew that extending the benefits of health care was the right thing to do. Now we know that it is not only right, but it is also constitutional," stated Councilmember Jean Godden.
"With national health care reform upheld, Washington can get to work making sure everyone has access to affordable, quality care," stated Councilmember Mike O'Brien. "Affordable health care will bring equity to those that need care and provide continued coverage for those already insured."
"After today's ruling by the Supreme Court the thirty million Americans currently without health insurance will begin having access to affordable health care," stated Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. "This is a great step forward for America"
"I have seen the detrimental impact of not having medical coverage in my own life through the eyes of family members, friends, and colleagues. This decision will ensure that they are no longer one major medical emergency away from health and financial disaster," said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. "People can now seek solace knowing that their health is not tied to their employment status. This is absolutely critical in building a healthy Seattle."