Monday November 14, 2011 | 01:50 PM

(Updated below with comment from Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District.)

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, says she is “pleased” that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear legal challenges to President Obama’s 2010 health care law.

Snowe was the only Republican on the Senate Finance Committee to vote in favor of the health care bill when it was approved by that committee in October 2009, though she said then that she did so to move the process forward and said she had concerns about the bill and might change her mind on the issue.

Snowe then voted against the bill on the Senate floor in December 2010.

She said in a statement today reacting to the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the case – Maine is one of 25 states that signed on to a case challenging the law brought by Florida – that she voted against the final bill on the Senate floor because “it was a massive expansion of government regulation, taxes, and spending that dismantled and undercut the vital market-based reforms Maine families and small businesses desperately needed to enhance their access to quality and affordable health care options.”

Snowe reiterated that she doesn’t believe the individual mandate to buy health insurance contained in the law should be in the law “unless and until affordable health insurance is available for all Americans.”

Snowe also reiterated her call for a “complete repeal” of the current law, even as she voiced her support for such elements in the law as banning insurance companies from limiting coverage based on preexisting conditions and allowing parents to keep children on their health plans until age 26.  

(Updated as of 2:15 p.m.: Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, a health-care law supporter, had a much different take on the decision by the Supreme Court to hear the case than Snowe, of course. Pingree said in a statement that, “The health care reform law has already begun to benefit millions of Americans - young people who stay on their parents’ plans or seniors getting discounts on prescription drugs are just a couple of examples.  I’m confident the Supreme Court will uphold the health care reform law and not pull the rug out from all of those people who have already been covered by reform.”)

(Updated as of 4:15 p.m.: Democrat Jon Hinck, who along with former Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is a Democratic primary candidate running in 2012 for the seat Snowe holds, said in a statement that Snowe is "trying to have it both ways on health insurance reform.” Hinck, a state representative from Portland, said that the law “was a positive step to address the rising cost of health insurance for small businesses and working Mainers.”)

(Updated as of 4:25 p.m.: Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District, said it’s important for the Supreme Court to tackle the issue since several lower courts have disagreed. “Millions of Americans and thousands of Mainers are benefitting greatly from the reforms already put in place,” Michaud said, not making a prediction on the outcome of the Supreme Court case. “No matter what the final ruling ends up being, I’m hopeful these positive changes can continue to benefit our families.”)



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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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