WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
“I am sorely disappointed that the court has upheld the individual mandate as a legal tax on the American people. Today’s ruling does not change the fact that there have been enormous problems trying to implement this terribly flawed law and that it must be repealed and replaced with a step-by-step approach that makes health care more accessible, affordable and competitive.”
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Marietta
“I am disappointed in today’s decision. While I believe the individual mandate to directly contradict the Constitution, we must respect the decision of the court. However, this is not the final chapter in the healthcare-reform debate. I will continue to push to repeal the law, and urge Congress and the next administration to work to replace Obamacare.
“This law adds new taxes on an already overtaxed population, and adds regulation to an already over-regulated industry. We must address the skyrocketing costs of health care and its impact on individuals, families and small businesses while working together on transparent and measured reforms to ensure that everyone has access to quality and affordable care.”
U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie
“I am pleased with today’s ruling that upholds the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. Although the law has not yet been fully implemented, there are several components that have already greatly benefited our nation. However, in the days to come, it will be imperative for Georgia’s legislative leaders to review the Medicare portion of the ruling to understand how it will impact our state.
“This was not an easy decision for the U.S. Supreme Court Justices who spent many hours reviewing the Affordable Care Act and wrestling long and hard for a ruling. I wish to thank them for their commitment to the deliberative process and upholding the rules of the judicial system.
“As a nation, we need to move forward after this ruling without looking back. There are still many unresolved issues in need of attention, and we cannot make forward progress if we are hung up on a past judgment that is now closed.”
State Sen. Curt Thompson, D-Tucker
“My battle with Obamacare didn’t start when I was elected as governor of Georgia. I wear with pride my bruises and scars from the fight against its passage in the U.S. House. Today, the highest court in the country let the American people down.
“While we recognize this is a huge setback for fiscal sanity and personal liberty, we are not giving up. Georgians and the American people deserve high-quality, sustainable health care. Congress must now work steadfastly on repealing this law and replacing it with reforms that help taxpayers instead of hurt them.”
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal
“I disagree with this decision. Congress explicitly said this was not a tax. I call on Congress to act swiftly, repeal the law and replace it with real reform that respects the Constitution as written.”
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens
LAWRENCEVILLE — Most politicians in Washington had three statements prepared for Thursday, the day marked for the U.S. Supreme Court decision on controversial health care legislation: one if it was repealed, one if it was repealed in part and one if it was upheld.
But U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall said he wasn’t prepared for the decision that came down, which upheld the universal health care mandate as a tax.
“It has really rattled me to have this come down today,” said Woodall, a Republican from Lawrenceville. “It never dawned on me to do a statement for it if was upheld. ... If you believe in individual liberties, this was a bad day in America.”
Reaction to the decision was mostly split along party lines.
“After decades of choosing between buying medications and putting food on the table, after decades of living in fear of bankruptcy caused by an unexpected illness, Americans are entering a new era of reliable access to quality, affordable health care,” U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat who represents part of Gwinnett, said. “President Obama and Congress took the lead and did what no other Congress and Administration has been able to do – put health insurance in reach for the more than 50 million uninsured Americans and make it more affordable for everyone.
“Today, the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of the law, and upheld these important protections,” Johnson continued. “It is time to move on and focus on strengthening the economy, creating jobs and paying down our debt. This is a great day for looking forward and pulling together for the American people.”
Georgia Democratic Party Chairman Mike Berlon, a lawyer from Gwinnett, said Thursday was “a great day for all Americans.”
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“The Supreme Court rejected partisan politics and put the welfare of the people first,” Berlon said. “This decision will allow all Americans to be secure in the knowledge that if they get sick, they will have high quality and affordable health care to help them get well. It also means that children and adults will no longer be denied health care due to pre-existing conditions and young adults will be coved under their parents’ health insurance up to age 26.”
In a press release, the state party said the decision “signifies a strong rebuke to Gov. Nathan Deal’s persistent attempts to undermine health care reform,” as Georgia was one of nearly 30 states to file suits against the law.
But even staunch conservatives found some good in the ruling, even though they are not happy that the law stands.
Debbie Dooley, the Dacula woman who is a national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, said the part of the decision concerning Medicaid actually gave the states a victory.
The ruling that the federal government can’t punish states that decide against implement federal provisions could set a precedent for other regulations, like the federal No Child Left Behind Act, she said.
“Everyone’s still analyzing everything, but (if the interpretation stands) tea party activists statewide are going to contact Gov. Deal and his lawmakers to get them to opt out of the Medicaid expansion,” she said. “It could have far-reaching implications.”
While the battle may be over in the courts, foes of the health care law are now looking to November to continue the cause of getting the law off the books.
Woodall honed in on Chief Justice John Roberts’ declaration that the Supreme Court’s job is not to overrule Congress unless there is a compelling reason. Instead, Woodall said, “elections have consequences, it’s up to the American people to make those choices.”
Because of the ruling, the congressman reaffirmed the vow he took when running for election two years ago: to do everything in his power to work to repeal the law. He also renewed his commitment to the FairTax proposal he has continued for his predecessor, since he believes the power of taxation ruling means now Congress is free “to use taxes to manipulate behavior.”
Woodall’s proposal, popular in his 7th Congressional District, would do away with the federal income tax and other taxes and replace them with a national sales tax.
“I’ve always said the FairTax is not about taxes. It’s about individual liberty,” he said.