WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's 2010 health care overhaul survived Supreme Court scrutiny Thursday but faced a new onslaught of protests from conservatives in Congress.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul survived Supreme Court scrutiny Thursday but faced a new onslaught of protests from conservatives in Congress.
Soon after the Supreme Court released its 5-4 decision upholding the law, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced there would be a vote in two weeks to repeal it.
Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, welcomed another chance to weigh in on the law.
“People are paying attention now and every chance we get that’s what we need to do to put pressure on the Senate to do the right thing,” Griffin said.
Since taking the majority in the 2010 mid-term elections, House Republicans have approved measures repealing the health care law only to be blocked by the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Griffin expects that pattern will continue, making health reform a major talking point for this fall’s elections.
“At the end of the day, this will be an issue for the American people to decide and much of that decision will be in November,” he said.
Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said he expects Senate Republicans will also push for a vote on repeal but sees little constructive purpose in that approach or in the partisan hyperbole that has greeted the Supreme Court decision.
“Everybody is drowning in spin here. Let’s get it out of our system and then let’s get to work on making the law better,” Pryor said. “I want to be constructive on this and work in a bipartisan way.”
Pryor said that those seeking repeal have not offered an alternative that would make sure people have access to affordable health care.
“They are going to have to show me something that will actually improve it. In our state, one quarter of the people are uninsured. Repealing does not make that number go down, it would go up,” he said.
Pryor also noted that provisions in the law are having a positive impact in Arkansas – lowering the cost of prescription drugs to seniors, allowing young adults to remain on their parent’s insurance and requiring insurance companies to provide coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the more liberal members of the nation’s highest court in the 5-4 finding that allows the law to go forward with its aim of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans.
The key conclusion the majority reached was that the individual mandate, which imposes a penalty on those who don’t purchase health insurance, is in essence a tax that Congress has a constitutional right to impose.
Reaction from the Arkansas delegation to Thursday’s decision fell largely along partisan lines. Republicans seized on the court finding that the penalty for not purchasing insurance amounted to a tax. Democrats, meanwhile, focused on many of the benefits included in the law.
“The President rammed this law through Congress claiming it was not a tax increase but the Court ruled it Constitutional as a tax. This is all the more reason to step up our efforts to repeal the law,” said Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.
“I will continue to advocate for full repeal of this massive expansion of government and do away with an unwanted and restrictive tax on the American people by replacing it with common sense, patient-centered reforms,” said Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers.
“After visiting every hospital in Arkansas’ First District and listening to doctors and nurses, I know access and affordability are the chief barriers to quality care. The President’s law does nothing to make healthcare more affordable or accessible for Arkansas families,” said Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro.
Rep. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, said the ruling does not change his view on ObamaCare.
“I have always said there were good and bad provisions in this legislation, and going forward, I’ll work in a bipartisan manner to improve the law to ensure it provides coverage for the uninsured while protecting those who already have coverage,” Ross said.
Ross would not say how he plans to vote next month on repeal but was one of three Democrats to support repeal of the law in a vote in January 2011, shortly after House Republicans took the majority.