Supreme Court upholds Obamacare – reaction from Florida's elected officials and politicians

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In a dramatic victory for President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court upheld the 2010 health care law Thursday, preserving Obama’s landmark legislative achievement.

The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who held that the law was a valid exercise of Congress’s power to tax.

The decision came as a sharp rebuff and disappointment to congressional Republicans, many of whom had expected the court to strike down at least some parts of the law.

Passage of the law in 2010 had come at a high political cost, with 14 House Democrats in competitive districts losing their seats in the 2010 elections in part due to their votes for the bill and six Democratic Senate candidates who’d voted for the bill also lost their elections in 2010.

Read the Supreme Court’s ruling here.

Instant analysis and reaction:

CFO Jeff Atwater:

“As we sort through the complexity of the recent Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Health Care Act, two issues of vital concern to all Floridians emerge.

“The Court made very clear that the overreaching extension of the commerce clause into free market behavior by this administration was unconstitutional. I applaud their decision in this regard.

“I remain deeply troubled, however, that Congress and the Obama administration would use an issue of such importance to the American people to disguise their intentions to add further tax burdens on our fellow citizens. Pushing a tax and spend agenda through dissembling and subterfuge is fundamentally dishonest and should not be tolerated in a free and open society.”

Attorney General Pam Bondi says she is “surprised and shocked.”

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan:

“While the Supreme Court did not declare the President’s government takeover of health care unconstitutional, the law remains unworkable and unaffordable,” said Buchanan, a member of the Health Subcommittee on Ways & Means.  “Congress must work in a bipartisan manner to repeal and replace the health care law with common-sense reforms that lower the cost of health insurance and ensure that the American people can go to the doctor of their choice.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor:

“The approximately 3 million uninsured Floridians will be able receive health insurance on a transparent health exchange of private insurance companies. Small business owners will be eligible for tax credits and be able to access competitive rates through exchanges so that health insurance is affordable for a change. Medicare beneficiaries who are already receiving free wellness checkups will see their benefits improve even more. Other important provisions survive as well, including measures I wrote to tackle Florida’s doctor shortage through more training slots at Florida universities and hospitals, offer new scholarships for the modern health care workforce and improve Medicare for our seniors.”

Florida Chamber of Commerce president Mark Wilson released an extended statement, but the gist of it is:

 “Obamacare is a bad prescription for job creation and economic growth, and today’s ruling will have a long-lasting effect on the spirit of America’s entrepreneurs – true job creators.”

Florida Health Care Association:

“With the constitutional issues surrounding health reform now answered, we hope Congress will shift its attention to tackling the difficult challenge of how to care for a growing elderly population in an era of declining resources. In Florida, the shortfall in Medicaid funding for long term care needs reached $145 million and $6.3 billion nationally in 2011. Against a backdrop of rising health care costs, Florida long term care facilities have also suffered multiple rounds of Medicare cuts and reductions in the last few years. Florida Health Care Association supports initiatives that create incentives for quality care and help contain health care costs. We look forward to working with Governor Scott and the Legislature to address these critical issues that ensure access to skilled nursing and assisted living care for our state’s seniors.”

Florida Medical Association (FMA) President Miguel A. Machado, MD, released the following statement today regarding the Supreme Court’s decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA):

“The Florida Medical Association (FMA) believes that health care system in our country should be focused on the needs of individual patients.  The FMA will continue to advocate for policies that increase patient access and choice, enhance the patient-physician relationship, address health care fraud, and eliminate costly regulations.  The Florida Medical Association remains concerned that the surviving Act weakens the Medicare program, fails to substantively address medical liability reform, and dramatically increases the regulatory burden on physicians and patients. These issues hinder access to quality health care and the FMA looks forward to working with elected officials to repeal those provisions that are harmful to our patients.”

Florida congressman John Mica denounced the decision:

“Today’s ruling is a severe setback to our personal liberty and our basic rights, and I am stunned that this Supreme Court of these United States would issue a ruling with so little regard to the protections which should be preserved under the Constitution, not ignored by the highest court in the land.  From the onset, I believed Obamacare was a disaster for this country’s wellbeing and a direct attack on our freedoms.  With this decision finalized, I will continue to fight and vote for the law’s repeal.”

National Federation of Independent Business’s Bill Herrle:

“Florida’s small-business owners have been fighting this battle alongside the Florida Attorney General’s office from day one, and after months of uncertainty and frustration, the Court’s decision is grave disappointment to them. The increasing costs of health-care are the number one concern for the small-business community, and this flawed law does nothing to address cost. While it’s devastating to lose this battle, the fight isn’t over. NFIB and our members are ready now to engage Congress and pursue a real health-care solution – a solution that gives employers and their families access to quality, affordable health care, and doesn’t violate the U.S. Constitution.“

US Senator Bill Nelson:

“A lot of us feel the health-care law wasn’t perfect.  But it was needed.  Our system was broken and we had to do something.  Insurance companies were refusing to cover people or dropping those who got sick.  So, we passed legislation to prevent insurers from running roughshod over people.  And today, the Supreme Court upheld most of these reforms.  Now, I think it’s time we finish the job of fixing our economy and creating more jobs.”

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam:

“Unconstitutional or not, the so-called ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’ is the wrong policy for reforming health care and the wrong direction for America. Individual liberties and the doctor-patient relationship took a step back today.”

Florida congressman Tom Rooney is calling for the repeal of Obamacare:

“Obamacare will drive up health care costs for American families and small businesses and hurt health care quality for patients. It’s going to destroy much-needed jobs, cost taxpayers trillions of dollars, and impose radical new government mandates on individuals and employers. This law is bad for patients, bad for doctors, and the American people still want to see it repealed.

“We cannot afford this law. We’re going to keep listening to our constituents and continue fighting for full repeal in the House.  In November the American people will have an opportunity to send to Washington a Senate and a President who are also willing to listen to them and help repeal and replace this entire law.”

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross:

“Today’s ruling is disappointing in that the American people must continue to endure an Administration addicted to taxing and regulating every aspect of American life.  Today’s ruling is positive however, in that the left wing of the court acknowledged severe limitations on Congress’ power under the commerce clause, gave the American people clarity that Obamacare is nothing more than a massive tax increase on working families, and recognized the rights of the States to reject paternalistic federal mandates Washington has no right to impose.”

Florida US Senator Marco Rubio tweets:

@marcorubio: #SCOTUS upholds #Obamacare because it is a #taxincrease. I thought @barackobama said it wasnt a #tax?

Sen. Rubio also released this statement:

“What’s important to remember is that what the Court rules on is whether something is constitutional or not, not whether it’s a good idea. And while the Court has said that the law is constitutional, it remains a bad idea for our economy, and I hope that in the fall we will have a majority here that will not just repeal this law, but replace it with real solutions that will insure more people and cost a lot less money.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott:

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court of the United States is simply disappointing.  The tax question was repeatedly refuted by members of Congress who helped pass this health care takeover.  The Justices have declared that the central provision of ObamaCare is a judicially mandated tax.  A new tax pure and simple.  This is just another burden the federal government has put on American families and small businesses.

“With the national economy struggling to recover, now is not the time to implement a massive social program that injects nothing but uncertainty and doubt into our economic system.  By doing so, they have put up yet another major roadblock to efforts to get people back to work and forced the government into the important relationship between patients and their doctors.

“I stand with Justice Kennedy that the entire act should have been held invalid.”

 Monica Russo, President, SEIU Florida State Council:

“SEIU and our Florida members, many of whom are Registered Nurses and healthcare workers on the front lines, are jubilant about today’s Supreme Court decision because we understand firsthand the human and financial toll for four million uninsured Floridians. In contrast, we have witnessed the positive impact that the Affordable Care Act has already had on the health of our state.

“As SEIU members, we are extremely proud not only to have waged an enormous grassroots campaign to help pass Obamacare but also to have filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in this historic case.

“SEIU’s Florida members are breathing a sigh of relief that our kids and those of our neighbors will be able to remain on their parents’ insurance until they are 26, that uninsured women will have access to mammograms and pap smears at no cost, that kids will have access to immunizations and wellness checkups and that insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage to children or adults with pre-existing conditions like cancer or diabetes.

“Now it is time for our state leaders, our congressional delegation, healthcare employers, community health centers, consumer advocates, unions and chambers of commerce to join forces to ensure that the State of Florida fully implements all of the benefits allowable under the Affordable Care Act, which continues to be the law of the land. One of our first steps must be to ensure that the communities most impacted by Obamacare are educated and aware of the benefits they are already entitled to and those that will be accessible over the course of the next two years.

“And Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi should take note that the so-called ‘burden’ of Medicaid expansion is a contradiction in terms.  It would actually cost Florida more to reject expansion.

“SEIU members have our scrubs on and are ready, set, go to ensure full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Besides, when the ACA is fully enacted and millions more Floridians have access to care, Gov. Scott will be able to brag about the creation of thousands of healthcare jobs in Florida!”

U.S. Rep. Dan Webster:

“While I acknowledge the Supreme Court’s decision, I believe it provides a devastating blow to future economic growth at a time when every new job is needed. The regulations, taxes and unaffordable price tags scattered throughout this law make it much more difficult for small businesses to hire new employees and expand their business. In no way does our work to repeal this law stop here. This decision is a severe set-back to freedom and job-creation, but I will work relentlessly to repeal this invasive law and replace it with common-sense solutions that are affordable and accessible for America’s families, businesses and individuals.  Americans need solutions that promote access to the care they need, from the doctors they choose, at a cost they can afford.”

US Senate candidate Dave Weldon, a board certified internist, released the following statement:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a betrayal of our Constitution and the basic tenants our founders created for our Republic. Now, million’s of Americans will have to pay the price for this failed policy which may take years to undo. Now, it is up to the people, through their representatives in the U.S. House and Senate to do the right thing and repeal this failed law, one injurious element at a time, if necessary, and build a more appropriate and equitable health care reform package.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.