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North Texas Politicians, Advocacy Groups Respond To Health Care Ruling

By Shefali Luthra, The Texas Tribune
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FORT WORTH (THE TEXAS TRIBUNE) – The Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday to uphold the entire Affordable Care Act is sending tidal waves through Texas — particularly the state’s GOP leadership, which has overwhelmingly opposed “Obamacare.” Here’s a look at what Texas politicos and pundits are saying on both sides of the aisle:

Gov. Rick Perry: “This ruling will be a stomach punch to the American economy. It is a shocking disappointment to freedom-loving Americans desperate to get our country back on track. Obamacare is bad for the economy, bad for health care, bad for freedom. Americans have made clear their overwhelming opposition to its convoluted, burdensome and overreaching mandates.Freedom was frontally attacked by passage of this monstrosity – and the Court utterly failed in its duty to uphold the Constitutional limits placed on Washington. Now that the Supreme Court has abandoned us, we citizens must take action at every level of government and demand real reform, done with respect for our Constitution and our liberty.”

Attorney General Greg Abbott: “This is an historic victory for individual liberty, states’ rights, and limited government. Today the Supreme Court made crystal clear that the federal government is more restrained than yesterday and yet, through a novel application of the facts, the Court did what Congress was afraid to do–called ObamaCare a tax on all Americans. This is particularly ironic since President Obama, himself, insisted this was not a tax. The decision marks a turning point in constitutional history. The Supreme Court rebuked a runaway federal government that tried to hijack the Constitution by imposing an unprecedented requirement forcing Americans to buy a product against their will. In doing so, the Court dismantled the centerpiece of ObamaCare—the federal government’s authority to compel Americans to purchase a product. The Court also agreed that States are individual sovereigns that cannot be commandeered by the federal government. In this instance, by forcing States to expand Medicaid, the federal government tried to hold States hostage. Our challenge to ObamaCare was never about healthcare or insurance – it was about the rule of law and a fight against a federal government that continues to expand. In this respect, today’s decision was a total victory. As the federal government seeks to impose the remainder of ObamaCare, it must do so within the limits prescribed by the Constitution. Although the individual mandate was ruled unconstitutional, the remainder of ObamaCare may be on life support—and we will continue our work to pull the plug on this unworkable and unpopular law. It is time for Congress to step in and end the ObamaCare nightmare by repealing an unprecedented tax on all Americans.”

Lt. Gov. (and U.S. Sen. candidate) David Dewhurst: “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to uphold Obamacare as constitutional is reason number one why we need a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate to repeal this monstrous law. As I have said from the start of my campaign, my top priority on day one in Washington will be to file legislation to repeal every word of Obamacare and throw the law in the trash can. Whether the individual mandate is characterized by the court as a mandate, or a tax, it is most certainly a disaster for America.”

Former Texas Solicitor General (and U.S. Sen. candidate) Ted Cruz: “This is a sad day for liberty. The Supreme Court has abdicated its responsibility to safeguard the Constitution, and it has rewritten Obamacare in an ill-advised attempt to save it. Today’s decision underscores what we have been saying all along: the solution to Obamacare will come from the people. All across America, citizens are rising up to take back our country, to defend liberty, and to roll back the out-of-control federal government.Today’s decision makes this Senate race in Texas all the more important. My opponent is, by nature and by over a decade of political office, a conciliator. Now is not a time for conciliation. The Senate will be the battleground on Obamacare, and I intend to lead the fight to repeal every word of it. Today’s decision will only strengthen the Tea Party movement – a great awakening that is sweeping the nation. Five federal judges have had their say. Now it’s the American people’s turn.”

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn: “The Supreme Court made clear today that the American people will be the ultimate judge of ObamaCare.  As Republicans, we will redouble our efforts to repeal this job-killing law. We must replace it with reforms that expand access and enhance care without adding trillions of dollars to the national debt and inserting Washington bureaucrats between Americans and their doctors. While I am disappointed in the outcome, there will be plenty of time to debate the Court’s decision; now we must focus on electing Republicans in November who will end ObamaCare and put Americans back to work.”

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison: “The Supreme Court has declared the health care law constitutional, but that doesn’t make it good policy. In fact, the majority said it was not ruling on fairness or wisdom of health care policy, but instead on the power of Congress to levy taxes. The court’s ruling confirms the president’s health care law is nothing more than a massive tax on the American people. When the health care law is fully implemented, most Americans won’t be able to keep the coverage they have now. Their health insurance coverage choices will be decided in Washington, D.C., and there will also be new regulations to disrupt the doctor-patient relationship. $500 billion will be cut from Medicare to pay for full implementation of the health care law, plus $500 billion in higher taxes on individual Americans and businesses.”

U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess R-Lewisville: “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is detrimental to our society, our economy, and to the future of health care in America.  Since its inception we have seen the strain it has placed on our economy through its ever increasing price tag, provisions which discourage small businesses to hire, and higher costs, and excessive government regulations. President Obama stated multiple times that the penalty associated with the individual mandate was not a tax; however, the Supreme Court today affirmed that indeed it was a tax.  In fact, it is a tax increase and a very large tax on middle-class America. When millions are unemployed the last thing America needs is another tax.This decision by the Supreme Court is paramount and signals to the House of Representatives that it is our responsibility to repeal this over burdensome law which increases taxes on middle class families, and replace it with common-sense policies that encourage economic growth and protect American’s access to care. The House has voted to repeal the legislation and will do so again next month.”

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton R-Arlington/Ennis:  “I’m shocked. I’m stunned. And I’m extremely disappointed. This is a sad day for the Constitution. The government can now tax not only your income, but also tax your behavior.  Where does it stop? If the government can use taxation to force you to obtain health insurance, they can force you to obtain anything. This is a dangerous precedent which could fundamentally change the direction of our nation. The Supreme Court’s ruling doesn’t alter the facts of ObamaCare. It only confirms what I have been saying since this 2,700 page bill was passed in the dark of night – it raises taxes on EVERYONE, hurts the economy and limits Americans’ health care choices. Republicans in the House will soon vote again to repeal this law and this effort will have my full support. I believe it must be thrown out and replaced with market based solutions that give patients more choice – not less. This decision clearly raises the stakes in November. The choice has never been more clear. The fate of ObamaCare will ultimately be decided at the ballot box by you.”

U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas: “Like many Americans, I am extremely disappointed by today’s decision. The president’s health care law was essentially and regrettably upheld. While I respect the Court’s ruling, I do believe it was wrongly decided. I do not believe the federal government is empowered by the Constitution to mandate the purchase of health insurance and I continue to believe that the president’s health care law is bad for our nation’s health and bad for our nation’s future. We must never forget that the president’s health care law increases health care costs, cuts more than $500 billion from Medicare, forces people who like their current private insurance into exchanges, threatens quality of care, and assaults religious freedom, while also making it harder for small businesses to hire more workers during the weakest recovery since the Great Depression. Instead of spending two years engineering a government takeover of health care, the president should have worked with Congress – both Democrats and Republicans – to enact policies that will grow our economy and create wealth and jobs for all Americans. For these reasons, House Republicans have already voted 30 times to repeal, defund, or dismantle parts of the law. I stand ready to once again vote to repeal what the Supreme Court left standing. For the sake of our freedom, our health care, our families, and our economy, the president’s health care law must be eliminated in its entirety. I look forward to the next Congress, where Republicans can work with a new president to enact step-by-step reforms that are patient-centered and will make health care more affordable for Americans.”

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson D-Dallas: “The Supreme Court ruling is a victory for the American people and a defining moment for our country.  The Affordable Care Act is already benefiting Texans.  In the Act’s first year alone, Texans saved more than $1.3 million in health care costs, an average of $639.36 per beneficiary.  In my district, 18,000 children and 80,000 adults now have health insurance that covers preventive services without paying any co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles. By 2014, 181,000 residents who now lack health care coverage will have access to affordable coverage for the first time, and everyone in the 30th district will be protected from discrimination by insurers based on a preexisting health condition.  Texas has the highest number of uninsured in the entire Nation. With full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Texas will hopefully no longer lead the Nation in uninsured individuals. As a non-practicing registered nurse, I understand first-hand how important this ruling is to women, children, families and seniors. Americans will benefit from lower health care and prescription drug costs, insurance companies will be held accountable, and millions of Americans will have the opportunity to receive quality and affordable health care. It has taken most of my lifetime for the enactment of a comprehensive and inclusive form of health care. I am proud to stand with my colleagues and the President to support a system that provides security, accountability, and peace of mind to the people whom we serve. The American people now have the security of knowing that their health care system has the ability to move forward, by providing this right for all and not for the select few.”

State Sen. Jane Nelson R-Flower Mound: “”This ruling underscores what is at stake in November. Taxpayers cannot afford the astronomic price tag of this ill-conceived plan, which will hurt employers and weaken our economy.  The health care system is nowhere near ready for the massive influx of patients who will be forced to buy coverage, especially given our existing health care workforce shortages. The future of this law is now in the hands of voters. This provision represents the number one budget driver in the Act, and we will schedule hearings soon to digest how this and other aspects of the ruling will impact our state. We will continue to advance Texas solutions to our health care challenges.”

State Rep. Roberto Alonzo D-Dallas: “Today’s US Supreme court decision  on the nation’s health care reform law is a significant victory for families, children and the elderly – particularly those from average, hard-working households that do not typically have access to adequate medical health care. It is no secret that since it passage, millions of Texans have already benefited from the federal law because of  their families’ inability to pay the high costs of health insurance, coupled with the escalating costs of prescription drugs.  As a result of the federal law, Texas seniors  have been able to pay lower drug costs, and people with pre-existing conditions have also received coverage.  Additionally,  young adults have been able to stay on their parents’ insurance plans, and insurance no longer has lifetime limits,  covering preventive care with no out-of-pocket costs. And after  today’s decision, many of these same families, children, and the elderly alike – particularly those from poor and middle-income levels, can  rest assured  and in better comfort, knowing that the law’s changes will remain in place. Once again, I applaud today’s right decision by the US Supreme Court which will help millions of Americans and Texans alike gain access to affordable health care for their families.”

State Rep. Mark Shelton R-Fort Worth, via Twitter: “Whether you call it a mandate or a tax, Obamacare is still a burden on the American taxpayer and does not improve health care!”

State Rep. (and U.S. Congress candidate) Marc Veasey D-Fort Worth: “Today’s decision is a victory for all Americans and I’m excited about the prospect of joining the fight in Congress to continue this work. America is now closer than ever to the day when no one need worry about the catastrophic consequences that can result from getting sick without insurance. However, there is much work to be done and, if elected, I will be proud to join our President in completing that work.”

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples: “Americans are not cattle to be rounded up, branded with insurance mandates and herded for their health care by government bureaucrats. Taxpayers are sick of not being heard, job growth is crippled by new taxes, and our childrens’ [sic] future is in peril by the actions of this president. The prescription is to vote for Mitt Romney.”

Center for Public Policy Priorities: “Today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is great news for Texas families. With more than 6 million Texans uninsured and billions of dollars in federal funding on the table for our state, Texas has the most to gain from today’s pivotal decision.”

Texas Public Policy Foundation President Brooke Rollins: “The fundamental question before the U.S. Supreme Court in this case was, if the federal government can force us to buy health insurance, what can’t it force us to do? Though the individual mandate was upheld under the taxation authority of the Congress, rather than the Commerce Clause, the net effect is the same: the Constitutional limits of federal power are now dangerously eroded. James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, argued passionately that in any constitutional republic, the transition to unrestrained majority rule is often an irrevocable step on the road to tyranny. Today’s ruling should be a wake-up call to all Americans: now more than ever, it is time to redouble our efforts to reclaim the proper sovereignty of states and citizens.”

Texas Association of Business President and CEO Bill Hammond:“It is disappointing that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, especially as it pertains to the individual mandate. The business community has always been very concerned about the cost of the law, the economic effect it will have on the country when fully implemented, and the effect on employees trying to navigate a complicated and confusing system. Unless Congress takes action to replace this plan with something that is more workable, we will see many jobs lost and many businesses that offer insurance to their employees now will drop that coverage. Congress shouldn’t be allowed to dictate the day to day lives of Americans and of business, and that’s what this ruling allows. There is still time for Congress to fix this before full implementation in 2014, and we will be working hard to make sure that happens.”

Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña: “Today’s Supreme Court decision is a victory for Texans. The health care law is the only lifeline for many Texans and Americans who had nowhere to turn when they got sick. Women can celebrate that their gender is no longer considered a pre-existing condition. Texans can have the peace of mind that they won’t be shoved off their policies when they need it most. Republicans like Rick Perry railed against the health care law but never offered a plan that would help save lives. Instead Texas Republicans put government between a woman and her doctor and ended preventive care for thousands of Texas women.”

Texas Medical Association President Michael Speer: “The Texas Medical Association has said since day one that we need to find what’s missing, keep what works, and fix what’s broken in the new law. We absolutely must reduce the law’s red tape and bureaucracy that interfere with patient care. Today’s health care system is riddled with hundreds of regulations imposed by federal health law that do little to improve patient care but instead divert our time and energy away from our patients. The court gave the states flexibility on Medicaid expansion. We desperately need a better system of caring for Texas’ large uninsured population. We need a local/state/federal partnership to design a fair and sustainable system. Top-down mandates are not the answer.”

Texas Well and Healthy: “Today brings good news for every Texan. All of us need health care to work better. In the state with the highest rate of uninsured, including the most uninsured children, many Texans were closely watching this court case. Today, they breathe a sigh of relief, knowing the status quo that shuts out too many people with chronic illnesses and leaves others to fend for themselves ends soon. Passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 was a step toward curbing discrimination by insurance companies, ensuring care for those who are sick, promoting prevention, and holding insurers accountable. Today was another important step. In no state does today’s decision have a bigger impact than right here in Texas, where since the law passed over 7.5 million have benefited. Today’s ruling is cause for celebration-and for action. It is time for Texas leaders to get to work on implementing the law so that more Texans benefit. One important step is to make sure every Texan eligible under the law for Medicaid health care can get it. We also need to establish an exchange that will allow many of the over 6 million currently uninsured Texans and hundreds of Texas small businesses to access good health care coverage at prices they can afford. Governor Perry should make his priority setting up a health insurance exchange made especially for Texas. The ruling today is what millions of Texans were counting on: children with pre-existing health conditions who get to keep the health care they need; young adults who can stay on their parents’ health plans; small businesses that receive tax credits for covering their employees; and millions of other Texans who benefit from the law’s free preventive care without co-pays and lowered drug costs in Medicare. For them, and for each of you, we celebrate today’s victory!”

Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller:“Working families in Texas have cause for historic celebration today. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act provides new validation to a century-long movement to provide affordable access to decent health care for all Americans. The Affordable Care Act is by no means perfect, but it is a good-faith, compromise effort to address an explosion in health care costs that threatened to place basic health care needs out of the reach of ordinary workers. In Texas, the law has helped young workers struggling to find their place in our economy and retirees who might otherwise not be able to afford preventive care. It has improved or saved the lives of more than 4,000 Texans who otherwise would have run afoul of ‘pre-existing condition’ clauses preventing them from obtaining insurance. The political spin off today’s ruling is doing justice to whirling dervishes, but we prefer to focus on the historic nature of the Supreme Court’s decision. The individual mandate is a bipartisan idea, first proposed by Republicans. Democratic and Republican presidents starting with Teddy Roosevelt have attacked the problem of lack of access to health care. Legal experts will dissect the path to this decision for years to come. There can be no doubt that for millions of Texans, today’s decision opens a new era and marks a heightened recognition that when it comes to health care, we are all in this together.”

Empower Texans and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility President Michael Quinn Sullivan, via Twitter: “Just remember: SCOTUS upheld slavery, too.”

Texas Right to Life Director Elizabeth Graham: “This ruling is devastating. Obama’s pet 1,000 page bill jeopardizes the lives of the unborn and the health of pregnant women. The elderly, the disabled, and the infirm are at risk of being denied medical care due to the rationing provisions of the law; the rationing decisions, known as ‘comparative effectiveness standards’ are based on purely subjective quality of life standards. The decision by the Supreme Court is very troubling. The assaults on human life at all stages will intensify like never before in our formerly- free nation. Any expansion of government-run healthcare like this opens a perfect opportunity for abortion and euthanasia advocates to expand their own agendas. The responsibility of the Pro-Life majority in America to elect Pro-Life leaders is more important now than ever before.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune here.

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