Following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold most parts of the controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, a good number of Tennessee's elected officials are commenting aplenty. Here's a rundown.
• 1:24 p.m. — U.S. Senator Bob Corker maintained the brevity the other Washington politicians have offered thus far: “Today’s ruling makes it clear that it’s up to Congress to replace the president’s health care law with common sense reforms that our nation and its citizens can afford.”
• 1:10 p.m. — Gov. Bill Haslam's first thoughts on the topic are pretty discreet: “We will review the entire Supreme Court’s opinion to fully understand its impact on the State of Tennessee. From initial reports, it appears the individual mandate has been ruled Constitutional and has been upheld. My primary issues with ObamaCare are that it takes away the flexibility for states to encourage healthy behavior, will cost Tennessee hundreds of millions of dollars, and does nothing to solve the crisis of the cost of health care in America.
“What was unanticipated is the section of the opinion that says states cannot be forced to expand their Medicaid program. This particular portion of the ruling is significant, but it is premature to know the exact ramifications.
“Now it is up to Tennesseans and Americans to turn their attention to the November election. By electing Mitt Romney, we can be sure that the entire law will be repealed.”
• 11:55 a.m. — Similarly brief is noted health care expert Congressman Jim Cooper who offered the following: “Most American lawyers aren’t surprised by today’s Supreme Court decision, nor am I. It turns out that Obamacare, Romneycare and Robertscare are the same thing – and constitutional.”
• 11:50 a.m. — U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander offers his brief thoughts: “The Supreme Court may have failed to declare the entire health-care law unconstitutional, but it is still an historic mistake that expanded a health-care system we already knew we couldn’t afford. Congress should repeal the law and then proceed step by step to reduce the cost of health care so more Americans can afford to buy insurance.”
• 11:20 a.m. — Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell echoes others' disappointment: “I am disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision today. As states struggle to make ends meet, this law passes down an unfunded mandate of immense proportions. Fortunately, here in Tennessee, we anticipated this possibility and set aside additional funding to mitigate the initial impact.
“The decision does, however, strengthen my resolve to keep an out of control federal government at bay so that individual freedoms are protected. Individuals—not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.—are best equipped to make their own decisions when it comes to health care. Electing Mitt Romney will be a positive first step in seeing this law repealed.
“The Medicaid portion raises many questions regarding the impact on Tennessee, and we will carefully analyze that part of the decision. Over the coming months we will carefully study how this law impacts our state and what needs to be done.”
• 10:58 a.m. — Republican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn chimes in: “I join the American people in their disappointment over today’s Supreme Court ruling. This is unfortunate news for patients and for taxpayers. The President has consistently told the American people that this mandate was not a tax. This decision serves as yet another example of the lack of transparency and honesty coming from this administration, and it shows their willingness to lie so they can impose their will on the American people.
“There is no way to 'fix' this hopelessly broken law. It’s time for Congress to admit Obamacare was a mistake and give the American people what they want – a chance to start with a clean slate on real health care transformation. We must repeal Obamacare and work step-by-step to replace it with real solutions that work. We are going to focus on 5 items - increase choice and options; decrease cost and mandates; simplify the system for patients and providers; restore the cuts Obamacare made to Medicare; and work to make health care tax-free.
“A good first step in this process would be for Congress to pass H.R. 371, the Health Care Choice Act, which I introduced last year. Allowing you to purchase health care insurance that fits your needs regardless of where you live is just the sort of cost-cutting, common sense health care reform that works.
“I believe Americans should have the freedom to make their own health care decisions. That’s why my colleagues and I will keep working to repeal Obamacare, and work to restore the freedom intended and secured by our founding fathers.”
• 10:35 a.m. — Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is disappointed: "It is intensely disappointing that this court failed to recognize what constitutionalists and conservatives know deep in their hearts: A federal government which can coerce its people to buy a product is a government unrestrained and out of control. Democrat Governor Phil Bredesen called Obamacare the 'mother of all unfunded mandates' and stated it will cost Tennesseans 1.1 billion dollars in the next few years. However, the fight does not end here. The court may have made its decision today but the people have yet to speak. When they do, Mitt Romney will be elected president and I will do all I can to aid him as he fulfills his solemn promise to repeal this insidious law."
• 10:30 a.m. — Congresswoman Diane Black joins the fray: “The Supreme Court’s flawed decision is a gross interpretation of Congress’ taxing responsibility under the Constitution. One thing this decision certainly does not change is the need for Obamacare to be repealed — immediately. As a member of the Ways & Means Committee, I will work with my colleagues on repealing this ‘tax.’”
“I have been fighting to fully repeal Obamacare, since I took the oath of office, and I am making progress. I am the author of the first bill signed into law that repeals a healthcare provision in Obamacare, saving taxpayers $13 billion dollars. I will not rest until Congress repeals the law in its entirety.
“Obamacare has been a disaster for the US economy. We’ve had 40 straight months of unemployment above 8 percent with no end in sight. Obamacare’s regulations, taxes, and mandates are killing our economy. And the trillions of dollars in spending Obamacare adds to our nearly 16 trillion dollar debt is unsustainable. Every day this law stands is a day more jobs are lost, more money is wasted and more people are losing their health insurance.”
• 10:25 a.m. — Tennessee conservative Congressman Chuck Fleischmann had the following to offer: “The Supreme Court made the wrong decision today. The Constitution places specific limits on the government, and the court unfortunately did not recognize those limits in allowing Obamacare to stand. While the Supreme Court may consider the individual mandate a tax, the Obama administration repeatedly claimed that this was not a tax when they tried to pass Obamacare. Like many conservatives, I believe the individual mandate cannot be justified as a tax,” Fleischmann said.
“Not only does Obamacare force Americans to buy insurance whether they want it or not, but it also forces Americans to subsidize birth control even if it violates their faith. Additionally, the law creates IPAB, the Independent Payment Advisory Board. This board is anything but advisory. It has the power to control Medicare payments, and its decisions carry the full force of law.”