Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Health care ruling: Statements from Maine’s delegation
Following the United States Supreme Court’s decision today to uphold the 2010 health reform law passed by Democrats in Congress, U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Finance, issued the following statement:
“Regrettably, today’s Supreme Court decision was a victory for a massive legislative overreach, broad and expansive government, and its power to tax – and in this instance, to impose an onerous new tax for Americans on a product which the health care law now requires them to purchase, regardless of cost of the plans which has yet to be determined. Indeed, the Court accurately describes the individual mandate as a tax, which Americans can ill afford especially at this time of continued economic peril. This law represents an imposition of additional burdensome costs not only on individuals, but on our federal government – far beyond the original projections.
“The bottom line is, regardless of the Court’s decision, it is critical that Congress fully repeal the law so that we can go back to the drawing board. Only then can we work together to enact workable reforms that would result in more competitive health insurance markets by expediting the ability of individuals and small businesses to purchase health insurance across state lines, which I have been a longtime proponent and champion of, and that would inject unfettered competition and new coverage options into stagnant insurance markets like those in Maine. “Frankly, if Congress had passed the simple, targeted legislation I first introduced in 2003 to allow small businesses to pool together across state lines to leverage their purchasing power to negotiate health insurance at lower costs – instead of succumbing to the special interest forces aligned against it – we wouldn’t be in this position. We would already be ahead of the curve in lowering the outrageous costs of health care. “Instead, we were presented in the Senate with a bloated monstrosity of 2,700 pages that imposed a new mandate on businesses with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance or face penalties; a $210 billion Medicare tax increase that would disproportionally hurt small businesses and do nothing to improve the Medicare program; and a law that’s resulted in a total of $500 billion in additional taxes and more than 10,000 pages of new regulations. “We still don’t even have answers to the most basic questions about the plans under this law such as what the premiums, copayments, and deductibles will cost – questions I had specifically requested from the Congressional Budget Office, but that were never provided. Shouldn’t we know if it’s affordable? “That’s why I have voted to repeal the health care law, and why I signed onto court briefs arguing against the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Now, it remains necessary that we fully repeal the health care law and replace it with reforms that increase the competitiveness of policies such as those I’ve authored, as well as develop a plan for affordability by maintaining certain widely agreed upon elements of reform – such as outlawing unconscionable insurance industry practices, banning preexisting condition limitations, and allowing parents to keep children on plans until age 26.” Congressman Mike Michaud released the following statement in response to today’s Supreme Court ruling that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional: “I am pleased that the Supreme Court’s ruling has provided the certainty Congress and the American people need on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. While I have always said it is not a perfect law, the Affordable Care Act is a huge step forward in providing affordable access to health care for Mainers,” said Michaud. “Now that this decision is behind us, I hope we can roll up our sleeves and concentrate on rebuilding our economy and putting Mainers back to work.”
U.S. Senator Susan Collins released this statement following the U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the Affordable Care Act. “The Supreme Court has the responsibility to decide whether or not a law is constitutional and has rendered its verdict on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. I continue to believe that President Obama and Congressional Democrats overreached their authority when they enacted a partisan law that will ultimately increase health care costs, decrease choice, impose billions of dollars in new taxes and penalties, and greatly expand the role of the federal government. Our nation faces overwhelming financial challenges, including a nearly $16 trillion debt, and this health care law will only make avoiding the coming fiscal cliff even more daunting.
“There can be no question, however, that our nation’s health care system requires substantial reform. A clean decision by the Court to overturn this law would have paved the way for Congress to start over in a bipartisan fashion, as we should have from the start, to draft a health care bill that achieves the consensus goals of improving access and quality, providing more choice, containing health care costs, and making health care coverage more affordable for all Americans. “The Supreme Court was right to concur with the 26 states, including Maine, that challenged the healthcare law’s mandate to dramatically expand their Medicaid programs or risk losing their Medicaid funding. Maine already has a generous Medicaid program. Had the Medicaid mandate been upheld, financially-strapped states would have been forced to make draconian cuts in other critically important areas such as transportation, education, and many others in order to comply with this expensive federal mandate. Ultimately, this provision was a false promise because it would not have been sustainable.
“I also am particularly concerned about the impact that this law will have on Maine’s small businesses, which are our state’s job creation engine. The law discourages small businesses from hiring new employees and paying them more. It could also lead to onerous financial penalties, even for those small businesses that are struggling to provide health insurance for their employees. Even where the law tries to help small businesses, it misses the mark. For example, I have long been a proponent of tax credits to help small businesses afford health insurance for their employees. The new credits for small businesses in the health care law, however, are poorly structured. They are phased out in such a way that businesses will actually be penalized when they hire new workers or pay their employees more. Moreover, they are temporary and can only be claimed for two years in the insurance exchanges.“In the wake of the Supreme Court’s divided decision on this law, I continue to hope that Congress will work together to change the law substantially not only in response to the Court’s decision but also to respond to the very real health care concerns of the American people as well as the budget realities we face.”
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s decision about the health care reform law:
“The Court made the right decision in preserving the basic consumer protections in thehealth care reform law—like letting young people stay on their parents’ policies or preventing insurance companies from cancelling your coverage when you get sick. The court did the right thing by ruling in favor of consumers instead of siding with the big insurance companies.” Governor Paul LePage released the following statement:
"Washington DC now has the power to dictate how we, as Americans, live our lives. This is a massive overreach by the federal government, and is infringing upon the individual choices that we, as Americans, have in pursuing our own American Dream.
This decision has verified what President Obama has refused to admit all along, which is to say this law is an enormous tax on the American people. The federal government can force you to do or buy anything, as long as they call it a 'tax.' This massive tax hike will only destroy the American economy as it forces us over the financial cliff.
This decision erodes the freedoms which made the United States the greatest country on earth. It is a sad day, and it is now up to the American people to demand full repeal of Obamacare. The Washington DC elites cannot and should not run our lives." Republican U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers today issued the following statement in response to today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare.
"The skyrocketing cost of health insurance is a grave concern for our families and businesses, and this issue needs to be addressed in order to get our economy moving again. But, just like Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, I disagree with the President's plan.
"The solution to our health care crisis is not more government control of such a large sector of our economy. The solution lies in giving families and businesses more control over their health care and putting consumers back in charge.
"We also need to level the playing field by making sure families and individuals have the same tax benefits that businesses have in order to make health insurance more affordable.
"I am disappointed in the Supreme Court's ruling today because I, like most Americans, do not believe the federal government has the right to force anyone to purchase a product.
"Today's Supreme Court decision makes this Senate race more critical than ever. The Court's ruling makes it clear that the President's plan amounts to a massive tax increase. Maine people need a Senator who will provide a voice for businesses and families as we address this critical issue." Calling it a decision that will protect the lives of millions of Americans, U.S. Senate nominee Cynthia Dill lauded the Supreme Court today for leaving largely intact the sweeping health care law championed by President Obama and congressional Democrats.
Justices voted to keep in place the measure requiring that all Americans be insured, in an effort to begin chipping away at spiraling costs in the U.S. health-care system.
"I'm thrilled the court upheld the decision," Dill said. "I have obtained a copy of the ruling and am poring through it. But I certainly am glad Americans with pre-existing conditions can no longer be discriminated against, and that the world's richest nation thinks it's important to protect the well-being of its citizens."
"The Affordable Care Act is a much needed law that provides basic health care to Americans where the free market failed to. Millions who are benefiting from the law will continue to, and not be held hostage to business decisions affecting whether they live or die. Seniors on fixed incomes are saving money on prescriptions and checkups. Insurance companies will no longer set arbitrary lifetime caps on benefits that put millions of Americans one car accident or heart attack away from bankruptcy.
"As U.S. senator next year, I will work to strengthen the law, and to reform the current fee-for-service system that creates the wrong incentives. I also believe we should go further in ensuring that Americans don't have to choose between health care and bankruptcy, though better cost controls, increased reliance on preventive care, decreased reliance on fee-for-service models, and, ultimately, a universal single-payer system." Senate President Kevin Raye on the Supreme Court Ruling:
"Today's Supreme Court ruling means it is up to the voters to elect a Congress and a President who will repeal a flawed and unworkable 2,700 page law rammed through with the kind of heavy-handed partisanship that disgusts the American people and has left Washington broken and dysfunctional. It is now clear that, if the law stands, it entails an unprecedented coercive new tax on the American people. Congress has a responsibility to start over and work together to enact true bipartisan health care reform that will give working families more choice and flexibility and help reduce the cost of health insurance without exploding the deficit, burdening struggling small businesses and destroying American jobs.
"Among those reforms should be measures to: establish Association Health Plans so small businesses can pool together to negotiate lower rates; allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines; make it easier for Americans to keep health coverage if they lose or change jobs; ensure guaranteed access for those with pre-existing or chronic conditions; and provide consumers with choice and access to clear information about health care options available to them.
"I am eager to get clarification of one potentially encouraging aspect of the Court's decision that may help us achieve needed MaineCare reforms by striking down ObamaCare's troubling provision requiring states to spend more on Medicaid at a time when states are struggling with budget shortfalls."