UPDATE: Supreme Court Upholds “Obamacare”: America Wins, Ken Cuccinelli Big-Time LOSER!

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    UPDATE 10:17 am: @SCOTUSblog says – “…entire ACA is upheld, with the exception that the federal government’s power to terminate states’ Medicaid funds…”

    UPDATE 10:19 am: SCOTUSblog tweets: “From the Court: The mandate max be regarded as a tax. ‘That is sufficient to sustain it.'” Also, “CJ Roberts’ fifth #SCOTUS vote saved the #ACA” and “#SCOTUS upholds #ACA individual mandate.”

    UPDATE 10:24 am: ‏@AmandaMarcotte tweets: “Wait, it’s 5-4? That means Kennedy broke to the right and Roberts to the left?” Yep, that seems to be what happened. Craaaaazy, did NOT expect that!

    UPDATE 10:27 am: Shoq tweets, “BREAKING: Millions of Americans with serious pre-existing health conditions just exhaled.”

    UPDATE 10:28 am: According to SCOTUSblog, “The Court holds that the mandate violates the Commerce Clause, but that doesn’t matter b/c there are five votes for the mandate to be constitutional under the taxing power.” Also, “Justice Ginsburg makes clear that the vote is 5-4 on sustaining the mandate as a form of tax. Her opinion, for herself and Sotomayor, Breyer and Kagan, joins the key section of Roberts opinion on that point. She would go further and uphold the mandate under the Commerce Clause, which Roberts wouldn’t. Her opinion on Commerce does not control.”

    UPDATE 10:29 am: According to SCOTUSblog, “In opening his statement in dissent, Kennedy says: ‘In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.'”

    UPDATE 10:31 am: ‏@SCOTUSblog tweets “Bottom line from #SCOTUS, Obama Administration wins. Challenge to #ACA fails.”

    UPDATE 10:33 am: According to SCOTUSblog, “In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.”

    UPDATE 10:39 am: Here is the electronic version  (PDF) of the Supreme Court decision. Read it and weep, Kookinelli!!! LOL

    UPDATE 10:43 am: By the way, I need to add that as much as I’m impressed (and pleasantly surprised!) with the overall ruling by the Roberts Court, I strongly disagree with Chief Justice Roberts’ reasoning on the Commerce Clause. As do many leading conservative judges and scholars. Yet another reason to reelect President Obama, to hopefully replace a couple of the radical right-wing, confederalist justices (Scalia, in particular) with sane, sober constitutionalists.

    UPDATE 10:52 am: Our fanatic, wildly misguided Attorney General calls the Supreme Court ruling “a dark day for the American people, the Constitution, and the rule of law…a dark day for American liberty.” As usual, with Ken Kookinelli, take the EXACT OPPOSITE of what he says and it’s very close to the truth.

    UPDATE 10:55 am: Bob McDonnell says “Today’s Supreme Court ruling is extremely disappointing for Virginia and for America.” Uh, no.



    That’s right, back in 2006 (ancient history, apparently), Willard “Mitt” Romney said:

    With regards to the mandate, the individual responsibility program which I proposed, I was very pleased to see that the compromise from the two houses includes the personal responsibility principle, that is essential for bringing health care costs down for everyone, and for getting everybody the health insurance they deserve and need. So I was very pleased with that development.

    So, remind me again why 6 years later, Romney and his fellow Teapublican’ts are suddenly against the individual mandate that they came up with, and which has been a cornerstone of their “personal responsibility” view of health care reform for decades?

    Also, please feel free to use this as an open thread on the ExxonMobil/Koch Industries Supreme Court’s@copy decision on the Affordable Care Act, including the conservative “individual mandate,” around 10 am. The big question: will the Supreme Court definitely prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are a bunch of radical right-wing political activists in robes, or will they shock us and actually do their jobs? I’m guessing the former, how about you?

    • We’re a better country today than we were yesterday & makes me proud to be an American. Now about that carbon pollution …

    • aznew

      while I’m happy that the ACA was upheld (though I think the SupCt got to the right result for the wrong reason), I eagerly await more details of what I suspect will be a primal scream from Scalia, if Monday’s performance was any indication.

    • IBelieveInHenryHowell

      Declares National Day of Mourning…

    • aznew

      I don’t know all the details, but I have to say I am impressed with CJ Roberts.

      Again, I think the decision on the Commerce Clause is plainly wrong, but as a political matter, Roberts is showing a ton of political courage here. He will be vilified as a traitor and hated forever by the wing-nuts for this.

    • ProgressVA Statement on Supreme Court Decision to Uphold Affordable Care Act

      This morning the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care reform legislation. ProgressVA released the following statement from Executive Director Anna Scholl:

      Virginia families are celebrating this morning that the Supreme Court followed precedent and upheld the Affordable Care Act. Now that there are no doubts about the constitutionality of the law, Virginia families can rest assured that important rules that put us, not insurance company CEOs, back in charge of our health care decisions are here to stay. Now it’s time for Governor McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to stop dragging their heels and move forward with implementing the entire Affordable Care Act here in Virginia.

    • Moran Statement on Supreme Court Ruling to Uphold Affordable Care Act

      Washington, DC – Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat, released the following statement after the Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act as constitutional.

      “Today the Supreme Court reaffirmed what Democrats and President Obama have known for two years; the Affordable Care Act stands on firm constitutional grounds.

      “People across the country are already benefiting from reforms in the Affordable Care Act, including 6.6 million young people who can stay on their parents’ insurance, 105 million Americans who no longer have a lifetime limit on their coverage, and 5.3 million seniors in the ‘donut hole’ who have saved $3.7 billion on their prescription drugs.

      “Though today’s ruling provides assurance as the Administration phases in life-saving reforms including a ban on insurance companies denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, Republicans in Congress will undoubtedly continue their efforts to dismantle critical provisions of the Affordable Care Act. We must continue fighting these efforts in the House of Representatives to repeal ACA.

      “Passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2009 represented a giant leap forward to not only make our health care system work better for Americans of any age, race, gender, or income level, but to rescue our economy from the suffocating grip of spiraling health care costs. We spend nearly 18 percent of our entire economy on health care – twice what every other industrialized nation pays. The Affordable Care Act will reduce our deficit while improving access to, and the quality of, care for all Americans.

      “Washington has been struggling to deliver meaningful health care reform for more than six decades. Today’s ruling means the United States can finally see its way closer to delivering on that promise for all Americans.”

    • Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the people’s will to reform our health insurance system, if elected, I will work in Congress to continue improving the the current law to help companies and people gain access to affordable, quality care. That’s what forming a more perfect union is all about – economic growth that comes from helping Virginia families.

    • Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli released the following initial statement on the U.S. Supreme Courts decision Thursday to uphold President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act:

      “This is a dark day for the American people, the Constitution, and the rule of law.  This is a dark day for American liberty.

      “This decision goes against the very principle that America has a federal government of limited powers; a principle that the Founding Fathers clearly wrote into the Constitution, the supreme law of the land.  The Constitution was meant to restrict the power of government precisely for the purpose of protecting your liberty and mine from the overreaching hand of the federal government.

      “This unprecedented decision says that Congress has the authority to force citizens to buy private goods or face fines – a power it has never had in American history, and a power King George III and Parliament didn’t have over us when we were mere subjects of Great Britain.  Since the federal government itself could never articulate to the court a constitutional limit to this power, Congress has gained an unlimited power to force citizens to buy anything.

      “I am disappointed with the court’s ruling and with the unprecedented attack on American liberty the president and the previous Congress have created with this law.

      “We are currently reading the decision and I will have more comment at the news conference at noon.”

    • “While disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision on President Obama’s health care law, I believe it reinforces what is truly at stake during this pivotal election.  This November the American people have an opportunity to choose new leadership in Washington who will listen to their voices and repeal this costly, harmful government health care law.

      “My opponent believes this health care law is a ‘great achievement,’ but I believe it’s an infringement on individual liberty and free enterprise.  As I have traveled throughout Virginia, I have heard from families, small business owners and seniors seriously concerned about the harmful impact of this health care law and how it is increasing costs, discouraging businesses from hiring, and trespassing on religious freedom.

      “I want to be the deciding vote to repeal this health care law. Virginians and Americans would be better served by reforms that deliver on the promise of reducing costs, increasing access to quality care, and put people – not government – in control of their health care. We need health care reforms that provide Americans with affordable, portable, and personal market-based health care solutions including Health Savings Accounts. I also support allowing small businesses to join together across State lines in larger risk pools for lower insurance costs and more competition and greater choice.  And the States should be allowed the flexibility to manage Medicaid more smartly and efficiently

      “Virginia has proven that historic reforms can be achieved if leaders are willing to work together.  As Governor, I worked with a Democrat-controlled legislature to pass major reforms including welfare reform, abolition of parole and Standards of Learning – now Washington needs the leadership and political will to achieve real health care reform.”

    • His statement is here. Note that basically every word he says is a lie, distortion, or Faux “News”-style talking point. This guy needs to be voted out ASAP!

      I’m extremely disappointed by this decision. This law and the process in which it was drafted represent abject failures for our health care system and our country. It is no secret that our economy is chained down by this law. I was hoping that the Supreme Court would take the decisive first step to unshackle the country, but sadly they did not. Instead, nearly every person in the country will now face a new ‘tax’ if they don’t want to comply with this law.

      In line with the dissenting justices, I still think that this law is an unprecedented overreach of federal power. This overreach jeopardizes the stature of our health care system, places an extraordinary burden on our businesses and job creators, and leaves treatment in a state of limbo thanks to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

      Two years ago, our health care system was infinitely changed. The legislative process to bring forth that change was atrocious. The final bill was disastrous. And today’s verdict is depressing. I will continue advocating for commonsense policies until America finally achieves real health care reform. Now the only path to stop Obamacare is at the ballot box. The rule of law and our Republic suffered a huge blow today, but our spirit is not crushed and we the people will ultimately overcome it.

    • and says, hysterically (of course):

      The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold ObamaCare is a crushing blow to patients throughout the country. ObamaCare has failed to keep the President’s basic promise of allowing those who like their health care to keep it, while increasing costs and reducing access to quality care for patients. In this tough economy, jobs and economic growth are on the minds of most Americans, but ObamaCare has increased uncertainty for small businessmen and women and forced them to put their hiring decisions on hold.

      During the week of July 9th, the House will once again repeal ObamaCare, clearing the way for patient-centered reforms that lower costs and increase choice. We support an approach that offers simpler, more affordable and more accessible health care that allows people to keep the health care that they like.

      The Court’s decision brings into focus the choice the American people have about the direction of our country. The President and his party believe in massive government intrusions that increase costs and take decisions away from patients. In contrast, Republicans believe in patient-centered, affordable care where health care decisions are made by patients, their families and their doctors, not by the federal government.

    • Court Upholds the Affordable Care Act  

      Statement from The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis

      RICHMOND, VA – -“Today’s decision is a victory for Virginians. The Affordable Care Act will protect Virginians from insurance companies’ most egregious practices, provide affordable health insurance coverage for hundreds of thousands of Virginians, and begin to bring rising health care costs under control. Virginia policymakers should move quickly to fully implement the Affordable Care Act in Virginia,” says John McInerney, Health Policy Director for the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis.

      There is little time to waste. Virginia must prepare to launch a new, state-level marketplace where small businesses and individuals can buy quality and affordable health insurance, called an exchange.  The state must gain federal approval for its exchange by January 2013.  The state must also prepare to enroll hundreds of thousands of newly eligible Virginians in Medicaid beginning in January 2014.  

      The good news is that Virginia is well-positioned to meet these challenges. The Virginia Health Reform Initiative issued recommendations last year on how Virginia can best establish and run its exchange and the state has begun work on the information technology systems improvements necessary to support Medicaid’s expansion.

      Now, the General Assembly and the Governor must work constructively together to authorize this new marketplace to ensure that quality, affordable health insurance is available to more small businesses and families in our state.  

      This will require only modest state resources. Millions of dollars in federal funding will pay for state implementation of the exchange.  The federal government will fully fund the Medicaid expansion for the first three years, and will continue to pay the vast majority of its costs in the years that follow.  

      In addition, health reform has already helped thousands of Virginia consumers:

      63,000 young adults have gained health insurance by staying on their parents plan up to age 26.

      Virginia’s seniors have saved an average of $600 per beneficiary on Medicare prescription drugs.

      Community Health Centers in Virginia have received an additional $48 million in federal funding to treat many people without insurance and people with Medicaid.

      Virginians no longer have to worry that their insurance company will cut off their benefits through practices known as “lifetime limits” and “recissions” if they need expensive medical care.

      When the new health care law is fully in place in 2014:  

      450,000 or more individuals and small business workers in Virginia will begin enrolling in private health insurance through a new health insurance marketplace called the Exchange.  

      An additional 400,000 or more low-income Virginians will begin to sign up for Medicaid, which will cover all adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $26,000 for a family of three.  

      Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage to any Virginian based on a “pre-existing condition” like cancer or diabetes.  (Right now, that part of the Affordable Care Act applies only to children.)  

    • HERRING STATEMENT ON AFFORDABLE CARE ACT RULING

      Leesburg – State Senator Mark Herring (D – Loudoun & Fairfax) released this statement following the ruling of the United States Supreme Court affirming the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

      “The Affordable Care Act was designed to expand access to quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans.  Millions of Americans will no longer need to live in fear that insurance companies will deny them coverage if they have a pre-existing condition. Young people can stay on their parent’s insurance plans until age 26 and seniors will receive free preventative healthcare benefits.

      I am disappointed but not surprised by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s over-the-top response claiming that this is a dark day for America.  He has wasted Virginia resources advancing a political agenda that the Chief Justice John Roberts and the Supreme Court has rejected. For Ken it is a dark day, but for Virginia families that can now rest easy knowing that the healthcare coverage they so desperately need won’t be taken away, it is a good day indeed.

      While this isn’t a perfect plan, I applaud Chief Justice Roberts and the Supreme Court for affirming the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement: healthcare reform. As a member of Virginia’s Health Reform Initiative, and a member of the Senate Commerce and Labor Subcommittee on Health Exchanges, I look forward to working with the Governor, the Attorney General and my colleagues in the General Assembly to implement this law in the best possible way so that our citizens will receive the maximum benefit of healthcare reform.”

    • “We commend the Supreme Court for rising above partisan argument and making a finding under the rule of law,” commented Cesar del Aguila, chair of the Fairfax Democrats.  “This Act gives the American people the security of knowing that they have access to affordable, quality care that they might not otherwise have.”

    • pontoon

      for voting for the Affordable Care Act what seems now to be long, long ago.  It was, IMO, the main reason he lost his re-election bid in 2010.  He helped change the landscape for those of us with pre-existing conditions who couldn’t get health insurance. So, I’d like to thank Tom again for that vote!

      And though I never thought I’d say it, I have to recognize Chief Justice John Roberts for his willingness to do what is right: follow the rule of law, and not what the political.  He’ll pay dearly for this among the Republicans and tea partiers.  

    • Statement of Congressman Gerry Connolly

      on Supreme Court Upholding Affordable Care Act

      The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is a victory for all 311 million Americans.

      The Court’s decision means 1.3 million Virginians with pre-existing health conditions, 140,000 of them in the 11th Congressional District, will never again risk denial of health insurance coverage.  It means that more than one-quarter million small businesses across the nation, and nearly 600 such businesses in the 11th District, will receive tax credits to cover 35 percent of the cost of purchasing insurance for their employees.

      The ruling means more than 837,000 Virginians receiving Medicare – seniors and the disabled – including 56,000 of them in the 11th District, will receive free preventative services including colonoscopies and mammograms.  It means nearly 3 million Virginians, more than 330,000 in the 11th District, with cancer or other chronic conditions will never again have to worry about arbitrary annual or lifetime limits on coverage.  And it means that young adults will be able to remain on their parents’ health insurance policies until age 26.

      I applaud Chief Justice Roberts for protecting some vestige of integrity for the Court by writing the majority opinion.  He broke with his ideological brethren on the Court, ignored the partisan rancor, upheld the Constitution, and cast the historic deciding vote to preserve quality health care for current and future generations of Americans.  Chief Justice Roberts has guaranteed his place in history books as a jurist who, in this instance, put the law above politics.

      With today’s decision, we can move forward to rein in a health care costs that were on a non-sustainable trajectory.

      However, I am troubled by the Court’s decision to weaken the Medicaid expansion provisions.  It could set a dangerous precedent with respect to the ability of the federal government to use leverage in all kinds of endeavors, including education, transportation, and the environment.

      And I am concerned that the Court fractured for the first time on what had been for more than 150 years a clear consensus on the broad powers granted Congress in the Commerce Clause.  This could profoundly alter the balance among branches of government, the relationship between the federal government and the states, and the Constitutional prerogative of Congress enshrined in the Constitution.

      But these are issues to be fought some day in the future.  For today, we can take comfort in the Court’s willingness to protect the American public’s access to quality health care.

    • Now that the court has ruled, it’s time that we turn our focus to the future.  Too many Virginia families are still struggling to get affordable quality health care and too many American small businesses are being held back by the high cost. We deserve leaders who will work across the aisle to build on reforms that have been made and improve them to ensure health care is more affordable for the middle class and small businesses.

    • I am very disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the constitutionality of Obamacare.  It was my belief that the President and Congress overstepped their constitutional authority in requiring American citizens to purchase a product like health insurance, and I am disappointed that the Supreme Court reached a different conclusion.  However, the court’s decision does not change the fact that Obamacare is bad policy.  Obamacare is too costly and we cannot afford it.  In addition, Obamacare increases the cost of doing business and makes it harder for American businesses to hire workers.  Finally, Obamacare limits American’s health care choices and intrudes on the doctor-patient relationship.

      Now, it is up to the American people to stop Obamacare.  We can do that in November by electing Mitt Romney President of the United States, electing George Allen to the United States Senate, and reelecting our Republican majority in the House of Representatives.  President Romney and a Republican Congress will act to repeal Obamacare and replace it with more responsible, market based health care reforms.”

    • I am pleased that today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision leaves intact nearly all of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, most importantly the “individual mandate.”  This law is a milestone towards expanding affordable health coverage to all Americans, regardless of age, income, or preexisting condition.  Young Americans can continue to stay on their parent’s polices until they are twenty-six, seniors will not be pushed back into the ‘donut-hole’, and health insurance companies will not be able to put a lifetime limit on your health coverage.

      This is a win for Americans across the country.  While the debate over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act has been divisive, as we begin seeing more of the provisions come into effect, more Americans will realize how important this law is and how it helps them, their families, and their neighbors.

      Due to the Affordable Care Act, 7,200 young adults in my district now have health insurance.  In addition, 6,000 seniors in my district are currently receiving prescription drug discounts worth a total of $3.5 million, an average discount of $580 per senior.  The law banned insurance companies from establishing lifetime coverage limits for 200,000 residents.  These are all forward-thinking and necessary reforms.  The United States currently spends more money on health care than any industrialized nation; it is imperative that we continue to improve the quality of the health care that we provide in this country.

      The legal challenges have focused primarily on the “individual mandate” provision.   During the past 2 years, I have maintained that this “mandate” is in fact simply a tax measure.   This is the same differential that occurs when someone receives a tax credit for having a solar panel – those with a solar panel get a tax credit and pay slightly lower taxes than those without.  This is not a “mandate” to get a solar panel.  The so-called “individual mandate” is the equivalent of not receiving a tax credit for having insurance.  If you carry insurance, you will pay less in taxes.  If you don’t have insurance, your tax liability will slightly increase.  Today, the Supreme Court, using the same logic, ruled that this tax measure is constitutional.  If, on the other hand, the Court had ruled it unconstitutional, the same logic would have put Social Security and Medicare in jeopardy.  

      I will continue to fight efforts to repeal this legislation, which provides access to affordable health coverage not only to those in Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District, but to all Americans.

    • I am pleased the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of health reform.

      I have always felt the Affordable Care Act was weighted more toward the issue of coverage and not enough toward cost containment.

      I look forward to now moving forward in a bipartisan way on how we can further bring down the costs of health care.  We must focus the health care system more on outcomes than simply on the volume of services provided.



    • This is about as misguided and laughable as you can get. As always, instead of working with President Obama to invest our nation’s future, help get us out of the economic mess that was largely the result of Republican Party policies, and get the deficit under control (again, mostly caused by Republican tax-cut-for-rich-people-and-spend-like-mad policies), Republican’ts like Bob BADlatte are wasting everyone’s time and taxpayer money with witchhunts against Eric Holder, and a Captain Ahab-level obsession with repealing “Obamacare,” which is almost identical to “Romneycare” and to their own 1993 alternative to “Hillarycare.” Are these people nuts, stupid, evil, or all of the above? You decide.