On Thursday June 28, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama’s health care law in a 5-4 ruling. Wyoming was one of several states that challenged the legality of the Affordable Care Act. The following are reactions from Wyoming leaders and stakeholders.
— Anne Ladd, CEO of Wyoming Business Coalition on Health:
“Now the next question is, what happens politically? One scenario out there is if you end up with a Republican in the White House and with a Republican-led House and Senate, they are running on a repeal of the law. … But we still have a health care system in crisis, and this is not going to get solved until employers, hospitals, physicians and health (insurance providers) sit down together and get this solved,” said Ladd. “The fog has lifted a little bit, but it’s time to get back to work.”
— Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (Republican):
“While it is significant that the Supreme Court recognized the limits of the Commerce and Spending Clauses, I was disappointed they otherwise did not find the law unconstitutional. As always I respect the legal process we have in this country and therefore recognize that any change in the ACA will now only come through the legislative process. This result makes the November election all the more important.
“Concerning the direction Wyoming will take, it is appropriate to study the opinion, meet with health care experts, citizens and the Legislature before making further decisions. While ruled constitutional, I believe the ACA is not a good fit for Wyoming citizens and we must continue to work on solutions developed in Wyoming.”
— Chris Henrichsen, a nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives:
“Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, it is time to move beyond the partisan and ideological rhetoric of the last few years,” Henrichsen said. “Instead, we now need to focus on how we can continue to expand access to affordable healthcare. This is an issue that impacts all Wyoming families.
“The individual mandate is largely about fiscal responsibility,” said Henrichsen, adding that the savings from the ACA are a central provision of the Simpson-Bowles commission deficit reduction plan, which Henrichsen has endorsed.
— Tim Chesnut, Albany County Commissioner and a Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming):
“The Act is not perfect,” said Chesnut. “But it is time to move forward and make it better. The alternative that Sen. Barrasso proposes – total repeal of the Act with nothing to replace it, is not good for Wyoming. I’m surprised that a physician can be that out of touch with Wyoming citizens. Before the Act, we had a badly broken health care system. Barrasso and the Party of No have nothing but that broken system to offer.”
— Chuck Herz, state chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party:
“Many, many Wyomingites, including members of my own family, have reason to be relieved today,” said Herz. “As more and more Wyomingites find out what this Act does for them, they’ll wonder what all the partisan uproar was about.”
— State Rep. Elaine Harvey (R-Lovell), co-chair of Wyoming’s Health Insurance Exchange Steering Committee:
“The biggest surprise was that when this was presented to the American people it was said, very emphatically, this is not a new tax. Yet that was the very argument that was use to uphold the law. … That part blew my socks off.”
— Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming), from an interview on KGAB am 650 on Thursday:
“I’m so resolved to work from now until November to elect people who will repeal this law in its entirety. Because the Supreme Court, I believe, was dealing with a piece of legislation that was so ill thought through, so full of complications. It’s not their job to fix the law; it is our job to fix the law. And restore people’s individual rights to choose their doctor and to get away from 15 unelected bureaucrats that are going to decide health care on their behalf. That’s wrong; the court got it wrong today, the American people need to get it right in the election in November.”
Lummis continued, “This is a bad law, it needs to be repealed. We need to elect people who will promise to repeal it and to replace it with something that is patient-centered, that allows people to keep the insurance they have if they like it, that allows people who have pre-existing conditions to get insurance that they can afford, and allows us a system that, for too long was ignored by both parties in the 1990s that got worse and worse, and then was usurped by President Obama making it a big government solution to what should continue to be a patient-centered system.”
NOTE: Later on Thursday, Rep. Lummis issued this statement:“My main focus is to repeal this law. Today’s unfortunate court decision is far from the final word on Obamacare. In November’s general election the American people must weigh in. Never before has this government forced its citizens to purchase a product. Never before have our health care decisions been in the hands of non-elected bureaucrats in the federal government. Never before has our country been levied a tax of this size.“Our Founding Fathers limited the government and empowered citizens because the people always know best, particularly when it comes to something as personal as one’s healthcare. An Administration willing to usurp this much power out from underneath its citizens has no limits to the boundaries they are willing to cross.
“Either Americans can take back their country this fall by electing people who will repeal Obamacare, or Americans will give up their rights. The courts got it wrong and wrote a blank check for federal overreach under the federal taxing power, but that doesn’t mean we’ve lost the opportunity to make it right.”
— Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming):
“The law remains unworkable, unpopular and unaffordable. Today’s decision does not change the fact that the President’s health care law is bad for patients, providers and taxpayers. It also confirms that the President clearly broke his promise not to raise taxes on the middle class. Americans will not accept a law that results in higher costs, fewer choices, and less personal control.
“It is now more important than ever that we get a President and a Congress that will repeal this law and replace it with step by step reforms that finally put patients first. Americans deserve to get the care they need, from a doctor they choose, at a lower cost.”
— Eric Wedell, retired physician and member of Consumer Advocates: Project Healthcare:
“Many groups are needed in the large and complex effort to implement the Affordable Care Act. Up to now, consumers in Wyoming have been missing in most of these discussions,” said Wedell. “About 88,000 people including 14,200 children in Wyoming lack insurance and many more people in Wyoming are underinsured. Today, we hope to engage many of them in their efforts to gain access to affordable health care for their families.”
— Barb Rea, Consumer Advocates: Project Healthcare:
“Now that the final decisions have been made by the Supreme Court, I encourage legislators and the Governor to roll up their sleeves and work to implement these reforms. As a former member of the Wyoming Health Care Commission, there are many areas included in the ACA that were considered by the Health Care Commission such as expanding Medicaid to cover all low income adults and families,” Rea said. “After years of studying how to improve health care in Wyoming, none of the Health Care Commission’s recommendations to the Wyoming Legislature was successful. That is why CAPH will continue to work toward full implementation of the PPACA.”
— Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming):
“It is disappointing that the Supreme Court has upheld the Constitutionality of the new health care law. Just because it is Constitutional, does not mean it isn’t still bad policy. And just because the Court upheld the law does not change the fact that the American people have overwhelming concerns about it. In fact, the Court affirmed that the new health care law is a massive tax increase on the American people.
“Congress must get serious about fixing our broken health care system. We can start by changing this misguided health care law that has divided the American people and failed to address rising health care costs. Congress should work together to make common-sense, step-by-step health reforms that can truly lower the cost of health care. I was pleased to see that the Supreme Court significantly narrowed the Medicaid expansions because states cannot afford them. Hardworking Americans are still struggling in this anemic economy and need real action to make health care more affordable.”