Mass. Reacts To Supreme Court Upholding Health Law

Though the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold the federal health care overhaul has little impact in Massachusetts, politicians and advocates in the state are reacting to the ruling.

Here's a sampling (and CommonHealth has many more reactions):

Gov. Deval Patrick, opening remarks:

Today’s decision is a victory for the American people, a victory for the proper role of government and a victory for our system of constitutional checks and balances.

It’s a victory for the American people because it sustains a law that gives families security, holds insurers accountable and helps Americans get the care they need. ...

Attorney General Martha Coakley, who filed a brief for the court in favor of the law:

We applaud the Court’s decision today. Massachusetts served as a model for national health care reform and we have already experienced the many benefits of increasing access to quality, affordable health care. Today’s decision is a victory for millions of Americans who will see increased access to care, coverage that cannot be denied based on pre-existing medical conditions, and the ability to keep their children covered until they turn 26. ...

Sen. Scott Brown:

The federal health care law may be constitutional, but it is wrong for jobs and the economy. In Massachusetts, we had already dealt responsibly with the problem of our uninsured without raising taxes or cutting care to our seniors. All we got out of this massive new federal entitlement is higher taxes, cuts in Medicare and additional debt at a time when we can least afford it. The bottom line for me is this law makes it harder for our economy to add jobs and for that reason I continue to oppose it.

Sen. John Kerry:

This is an important day for the Supreme Court and an important day for Americans who need affordable health care coverage. But I hope this will also be an important day for our politics and our discourse. For the past three years, opponents of health reform did everything they could to distort and deceive. They tried to scare the American public with outright lies about ‘death panels’ and ‘socialized medicine.’ When that didn’t work, they came up with a new strategy: claim that the individual mandate the Republican Party itself had invented was unconstitutional. Today, the conservative Roberts Court put an end to that debate. ...

Many Massachusetts representatives, including Reps. Ed Markey and Michael Capuano, also released statements celebrating the ruling.

Speaker Robert DeLeo:

... This historic opinion memorializes on a federal level what we are already doing here in Massachusetts – providing access to healthcare to all of our citizens. Accordingly, we will continue our work on health care reform, leading the nation as we collectively curb health care costs and deliver coverage to our residents. As all of the implications of today’s ruling become clear, I am hopeful that the federal government will maintain its fiscal partnership with our efforts.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino:

Like many others who believe that access to healthcare is fundamental, I strongly support the Supreme Court’s decision today to uphold the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act. This legislation, like the law we passed in Massachusetts, will extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, level the playing field between consumers and insurance companies and help us to contain runaway healthcare spending. ...

Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy:

I applaud the decision by the United States Supreme Court this morning, upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. We still have much work to do to implement the law, and I hope we can all come together now tocomplete that work. The stakes are too high for us to do otherwise. As my late husband Senator Edward Kennedy said: “What we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.”

Bill Vernon, Massachusetts' director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses and a plaintiff on the case, told WBUR that he's disappointed with the ruling and the federation will seek other methods to fight the law. To State House News he added:

[The ruling] guarantees that Massachusetts residents will have their most personal health care decisions made by politicians and bureaucrats in Washington and in other states whom they’ve never met and whom they’ll have a hard time influencing in the future.

Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe:

Although it’s surprising how few people seem to have noticed, Chief Justice Roberts signaled on the very first day of oral argument this March that he saw this mandate as merely a tax, a view I had also expressed in my Boston Globe editorial on April 3, 2011, when I argued “this law doesn’t literally force anybody to do anything; it just increases the tax liability of those who refuse to buy insurance.” It’s enormously gratifying that the Chief Justice, whose views count while of course mine don’t, saved the day – and perhaps the Court. But most gratifying of all is the way millions of otherwise uninsured and uninsurable Americans will now learn in real time how much this landmark piece of legislation will do to protect us all.

This article was originally published on June 28, 2012.

This program aired on June 28, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.


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