State leaders divided on decision to uphold Affordable Care Act

WACH Fox News
June 28, 2012

COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) – The Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the individual insurance requirement of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act has South Carolina leaders torn.

After the announcement of the highest court’s decision Thursday morning, state leaders began sharing their responses to the health care law. While some see it as an achievement, others see it as a disappointment.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says the decision represents a huge tax increase on the American people that will kill jobs.

Regardless of the decision that came down, what was bad policy yesterday is bad policy today. The fact that the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate means we are looking at one of the largest tax increases on the American people we have ever seen. This is a tax increase for the people of South Carolina, it’s a job killer – and it is the government getting in the way of physicians and the patients.” said Haley. “So with that, what does this mean for South Carolina? It continues to keep us from doing what we know we need…We know best what the people of South Carolina need. We know best how to help the people in the rural areas as well as in the cities. If D.C. would let us do our job, we would spend less money and be more effective in the way we do that…”

The high court ruled states cannot lose funding if they don’t expand Medicaid coverage, making it an option. That now becomes a question for legislators.

Haley would not say whether she thinks the state should expand coverage. She said again she favors throwing the whole law out.

Sen. Jim Demint tweeted that “the President’s health care law must be fully repealed as all of its promises have proven false” along with a link to his full response to the issue.

The president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and vice chair American Sustainable Business Council, Frank Knapp Jr., supports the decision for the way it benefits small businesses in the state.

“Today marks an extraordinary day for American small businesses. The positive measures under the Affordable Care Act that began in 2010 will continue to benefit our small businesses, the engine of America’s economy. The new law has already helped hundreds of thousands of small businesses, many of which are based here in South Carolina, through healthcare tax credits. 2014 will bring an insurance marketplace that will create more competition among insurance companies to drive down premiums. Fewer people without insurance will curtail cost shifting that results in those with health insurance paying higher premiums. When the ACA is fully implemented, small businesses will finally be paying the same rates as big corporations,” said Knapp.

Congressman Mick Mulvaney expressed his disappointment and said, “this is truly a sad day.”

Mulvaney went on to explain why he believes it is time “to repeal Obamacare in its entirety and replace it with common sense, step-by-step, reforms that reduce costs for health care and ensure that patients, not Washington bureaucrats, are in control of their own decisions.”

Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn supported the decision because he believes all Americans should be able to have access to affordable health care.

“This is a big, big victory for the American people. President Obama and Democrats in Congress carefully crafted this law on the basic premise that every American deserves affordable access to quality health care as a matter of right and not of privilege. This law puts decisions about medical care in the hands of families and their doctors instead of corporate CEOs. I have said throughout this debate that this law is the Civil Rights Act of the 21st century. History will look kindly on this tremendous achievement,” said Clyburn.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson and South Carolina Medical Association CEO Todd Atwater were also against the decision.

“The SCMA is extremely disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in its current, flawed form, which lacks key components for successful health care reform,” said Atwater. “The SCMA has opposed Federal health reform legislation since its beginning and believes we have missed a critical opportunity to start afresh with a more sustainable law. The SCMA will continue to advocate for health reform that is both fiscally sound and, most importantly, places a priority on the physician-patient relationship.”

Attorney General Wilson is concerned for what the law means for the future of South Carolina.

“The Obama Administration, through Congress, has now been allowed to pass this tax on all Americans. It was, and is, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Congress must now repeal this tax and draft a solution that will actually help the health care problems this country faces,” said Wilson. “Further, for states like South Carolina, a catastrophic new reality emerges. Under the Act, the states will be forced to expand their Medicaid rolls to unprecedented levels. While the Court ruled today that existing federal money used to fund Medicaid cannot be cut, any new money necessary to fund this explosion of new recipients could be withheld from any state that does not fall in line with Congress’ wishes. Many states will simply not be able to afford this new onerous mandate.”

South Carolina political scientist Dr. Christopher Curtis of Claflin University weighed in on what the decision means for the future.

“The political ramifications are huge because for Republicans to repeal the act now, it must be done legislatively. If the GOP can gain a majority in the Senate and retain a large plurality in the House, they could conceivable do that,” said Curtis. “It will depend on voter turnout. Republicans and especially the Tea Party wing will mobilize to focus on Congressional elections. For those who support the act, it will be critical for them to not only vote for President Obama but Democratic Congressional candidates. Everybody is looking at the presidential election. But the Congressional elections may rival the battle for the White House in terms of the health care law’s survival.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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