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Jerry Cornfield | jcornfield@heraldnet.com
Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 8:13 a.m.

Health care law upheld - let the reaction begin

A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court today narrowly upheld the controversial federal health care law.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion, broke ranks with his conservative colleagues and joined with the liberals to uphold the individual mandate under Congress's taxing power. This was the linchpin for most of the law so keeping it in place ensures preservation of most elements of the law.

His opinion was joined in by Justices Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

Reaction has started flowing. Here are excerpts and I will add items throughout the day with the newest ones appearing on top.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Wash., who voted against the law. She was inside the Supreme Court chamber when the decision was announced.

“As a mom with two young children, a wife who helps balance the family budget, and someone who helped run a family-owned small business, I am disappointed the Supreme Court has decided to uphold ObamaCare – especially the individual mandate, which is an unprecedented expansion of government power. The health care law that passed Congress over the will of the American people two years ago was a disastrous law that raised costs, made it harder for small businesses to hire employees, and cut Medicare, among other things. Now, after months of deliberation, the Supreme Court has ruled that while the law might be unworkable, it's not unconstitutional. While I do not agree with the Court's decision, I respect it and encourage others to do the same. The Court's ruling will have no impact on Congress' continuing efforts to repeal the law. In fact, we are more determined than ever to repeal it and replace it with something better."

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., who voted for the law.
“This is a HUGE victory for the American people. I always believed the law would withstand this attack by Tea Party Republicans like Washington State's Attorney General, Rob McKenna. Now that the court has reaffirmed what we all knew, the President and Congress can finish building the 'house of health' in which all Americans will have health security."

Scott Bond, president of the Washington State Hospital Association:
“We are also pleased the law will go forward because hospitals have a huge financial stake in the health insurance expansions. The law contains enormous reductions in hospital payments – hospitals' contribution to pay for the health insurance expansions. Over the next ten years, federal reductions in hospital payments are projected to be $155 billion nationwide, and $2.7 billion in Washington State alone. If the law works as intended, many more people who are currently uninsured will become insured. They will be able to get primary and specialty care, will not rely on the ER for their care, and when they are hospitalized the hospital will receive some payment. Hospitals that treat a high number of the poor and uninsured will not be as burdened; the special government payments that support them will be less critical.”

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash.,who voted for the law:
“With regards to health care, there's no going back to 2009 or 1789. Improvements to our health care are taking root right now, and that progress will continue for Northwest Washington and the rest of America. The Supreme Court's decision today to uphold the Affordable Care Act is a welcome result for middle class families across Northwest Washington and will bolster the necessary changes taking place in health care.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus:

"Today's Supreme Court decision sets the stakes for the November election. Now, the only way to save the country from ObamaCare's budget-busting government takeover of health care is to elect a new president."

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, a Democrat, who was relieved his office did not have to unravel what's been done since the law took effect.

“I'm very pleased the Supreme Court chose to uphold the Affordable Care Act. We've been busy for two years now implementing the reforms and have made great progress, but there's a lot left to do before 2014. With the court decision out of the way, we can continue our focus on where it should be – bringing relief to families struggling to find quality, affordable health insurance.”

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