Oklahoma Leaders React To Supreme Court Health Care Act Ruling

Thursday, June 28th 2012, 10:35 am
By: News On 6

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

That ruling has Oklahoma's Governor and Attorney General voicing their disappointment, especially with the individual mandate portion of the act. 

The court handed President Barack Obama a campaign-season victory in rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in requiring most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.

News On 6 viewers can see expanded coverage of Thursday's Supreme Court ruling on the health care law in the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts on News On 6. We'll have stories on what this means for Green Country residents, uninsured patients, business owners, the insurance industry and the medical community.

The court did strike down one major provision of the law, which would have expanded Medicaid coverage. Currently, Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that provides health care to certain poor Americans, such as children and the elderly. In 2014, the Affordable Care Act would have opened up Medicaid to anyone with an income under 138 percent of the federal poverty line.

Several states argued the expansion of the program would have placed an undue burden on the states. If a state had chosen not to expand the program as the law required, it would have had to opt out of Medicaid completely -- something no state could afford to do.

The Supreme Court agreed that the federal government's ability to revoke a state's Medicaid funding is limited.

Governor Mary Fallin released a statement regarding the Supreme Court's decision:

"Oklahomans have voiced their opposition to the federal health care bill from the very beginning, having approved a constitutional amendment to block the implementation of this bill in our state. We believe that, rather than Big Government bureaucracy and one-size-fits-all solutions, the free-market principles of choice and competition are the best tools at our disposal to increase access to health care and reduce costs.

I'm extremely disappointed and frustrated by the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the federal health care law. President Obama's health care policies will limit patients' health care choices, reduce the quality of health care in the United States, and will cost the state of Oklahoma more than a half billion dollars in the process.

Today's decision highlights the importance of electing leaders who will work to repeal the federal health care law and replace it with meaningful reform focused on commonsense, market based changes."

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt issued a statement a reacting to the Supreme Court decision:  

"We're disappointed the Court upheld the individual mandate, and find it disturbing that they did not place a limit on the power of the federal government to control the lives of Americans. But, the battle isn't over. It is now up to the political process to repeal the act and replace it with measures that address the health care crisis within the confines of the Constitution. We must continue to oppose this act and multiple overreaching regulations proposed by the Obama Administration that cross the line of federal power."

Scott Pruitt attended Thursday's court session at the U.S. Supreme Court. He is in Washington D.C. Thursday to testify before a Congressional subcommittee.

Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the health care act in January 2011 and filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case. Virginia and Florida also filed lawsuits, challenging the act. Twenty-five other states joined the Florida lawsuit.

U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe issued a statement concerning the Supreme Court 5 to 4 ruling:

"I am disappointed that the court has upheld the individual mandate as a tax," said Inhofe. "By ruling it a tax, I suspect that this issue will come up again in 2015 when that portion of the law goes into effect. In the meantime, even though President Obama said in 2009 that this is ‘absolutely not a tax increase,' it turns out that Obama and the Democrats have levied an enormous tax increase on the middle and lower classes. The individual mandate will cost Americans the greater of a per-person flat fee or percentage of the household's income. The flat fee is up to $695, and the income percentage is up to 2.5 percent. That is just not workable for most families.

Aspects of the measure have infringed upon religious rights, cost our economy jobs, and will add to our skyrocketing federal debt. Despite promising to bring health care costs down, the Congressional Budget Office projects that costs will continue to rise and more people will become dependent upon the federal government for their health care coverage. This law increases premiums for families by $2,100 per year, and will put one in six hospitals in the red because of cuts to Medicare, jeopardizing access to treatment. In addition to the $52 billion in tax penalties on employers, this law will mean 800,000 fewer jobs at a time when unemployment has been at 8 percent or higher for 40 straight months.

"In short, Obamacare costs too much in the form of lost rights, lost jobs, higher taxes, and increased debt. I will join with my colleagues to repeal this law and pursue sensible healthcare reform."

The high court's move, however, hardly ends the political controversy; if anything, the decision is sure to renew calls for U.S. lawmakers to repeal the Affordable Care Act legislatively.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.