Local politicians and residents reacted Thursday to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the major provisions in the Affordable Care Act.
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the law, including a measure that would force people to pay a penalty if they a can afford insurance but don’t buy it.
“I think they got it right today,” said David Tibbetts, an attorney and vice president of the Greater Odenton Improvement Association. “The country needs to do something with the health care mess. This is a solution.”
Chief Justice John Roberts rejected arguments that the health care mandate was supported by the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution. Rather, he said the mandate should remain in place but be considered a tax.
Tibbetts, a self-described moderate Republican and former candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates, said he agreed with Chief Justice John Roberts rationalization.
“It’s good news for the country that the overexpansion of the commerce clause was rejected,” Tibbetts said. “I always thought it was a tax. It’s the old ‘if it walks like a duck and has feathers, it’s probably a duck.’ They had the ability to tax and certainly the purpose of promoting public health is a legitimate use of the taxing authority.”
Local Republicans said they will support efforts by Congress to repeal the law, and said they believe it will become a major issue in the fall elections.
“It will be battled out between now and November,” said Stephen Clark Reigle, chairman of the District 32 Republican Club. “Everybody should have a right to get health care, but it shouldn’t be forced upon you by the government.”
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger cautioned against declaring political victories, but said the decision was a good one.
“This ruling is not about a victory for Democrats or a loss for Republicans. It’s about providing all Americans with access to quality, affordable healthcare,” he said in a statement. “We’ve already seen many of the benefits here in Maryland that can now continue."
Many local residents were surprised by the court’s decision, especially with the historically conservative Roberts casting the key vote to uphold the legislation.
“His stature, in my view, has gone up,” said Bill Flook, chairman of the District 33 Democratic Club, which meets in Odenton. “I see him as having looked at this issue on the merits and respect him greatly for that.”
Flook said the ruling was a vindication of the President’s vision to seek broader health care coverage without moving to a fully public system like that in Canada and many countries in Europe.
“I think we appreciate that this vindicates the presidents’ vision for expanded and more affordable health care for more Americans,” Flook said. “It was the right vision. This says that the way we figured it out—working with the existing structure—was the right way to go.”
Here's a roundup of other reactions from around the county and state:
Councilman Jerry Walker (R-7th District) told Patch via text, “The ruling by SCOTUS today points to the importance of the upcoming election. We need a Romney administration that will support a Congressional repeal of Obamacare mandate/tax."
Councilman Dick Ladd (R-5th District) told Patch via email, "Sounds like a major increase in government spending, size and taxes. It's a worrisome impact on private job growth and maintenance, which puts pressure on for more government jobs; good for those who do not pay taxes and or get tax refunds; very unnerving for those who pay taxes..."
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Cardin wrote in a press release that the court's decision was "the best possible decision for the American people, because everyone now will have access to affordable, quality care and will be protected against the abusive practices of insurance companies.
“I thank the justices for setting aside the politics surrounding this debate and actually following precedent and the law."
Gov. Martin O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown:
"In upholding the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Supreme Court chose to protect the lives of millions of Marylanders and millions of Americans. American businesses will be more competitive in the global economy with lower health care costs and a healthier workforce. Parents will be able to keep their children on their health care plans until age 26. Seniors will avoid the Medicare Donut Hole. And by 2014, no American will be denied health care coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
“Today’s decision gives considerable momentum to our health care reform efforts here in Maryland. What it does not – and indeed must not – do, is give us license to take our eye off the ball or slow our progress.
“We remain as committed as ever to moving forward on behalf of our families. We must move forward, not back.”