King County, Washington leaders react after Supreme Court health care ruling
June 28, 2012
NEW — 10:45 a.m. June 28, 2012
King County Executive Dow Constantine and other elected officials split along party lines Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on the federal health care overhaul.
In a complex decision, justices on the high court ruled 5-4 to uphold the individual mandate — a requirement for all Americans to enroll in a health insurance plan or pay a penalty. The provision is scheduled to go into effect in 2014.
The ruling limited the plan in the Affordable Care Act — dubbed Obamacare by some — to expand Medicaid for the poor.
Justices ruled the federal government cannot withhold a state’s entire Medicaid allotment if the state does not participate in the planned Medicaid expansion.
“I celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act,” Constantine said in a statement. “A stable, healthier future has been made possible by this ruling. This is affirmation of our nationwide, bold move toward achieving quality affordable healthcare, and we are moving in the right direction.”
Constantine, a Democrat, highlighted the potential local impact for King County residents without health insurance.
“And for the nearly quarter of a million people in King County who do not have health insurance this is truly a welcome life-and-death decision,” he continued.
Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat and close ally of President Barack Obama, lauded the ruling.
“I applaud today’s Supreme Court decision. Since the Affordable Care Act was signed by the president, we have worked tirelessly to implement it in our state, with my firm belief that it was constitutional and would ultimately withstand legal challenge,” she said in a statement. “I’m extremely pleased that the majority of the court agreed on the merits of the law highlighted in the briefs that I and others submitted on its behalf.”
U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, a Republican and the Issaquah representative in Congress, said legislators must work to refine the health care law.
“While I respect today’s Supreme Court ruling, it is only one more point in the ongoing debate,” Reichert said in a statement. “I remain undeterred in improving health care for all Americans. The government takeover of health care raised taxes and health care costs, restricted access for patients and hurt businesses. Those problems remain and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to continue repealing harmful and expensive provisions of the law and finding common sense, reasonable solutions for Americans to have access to affordable and quality health care.”
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat, called the ruling “a victory for the health care security and stability of Washington families” at the high court.
“Today’s ruling means that families and small business owners will continue to benefit from better access, more choices and a health care system that no longer works only for those who can afford it,” she said in a statement. “It means that health care decisions will be in the hands of patients and their doctors, and that insurance companies will be forced to compete for the business of Washington state families.”
State Attorney General Rob McKenna, the highest-ranking Republican official in the state, joined the effort to repeal the health care overhaul.
In early 2010, not long after Obama signed the legislation into law, McKenna and other attorneys general entered a multistate lawsuit challenging the health care law. Supreme Court justices listened to arguments in the case in late March.
McKenna, a Republican and contender for governor, defended the lawsuit during a June 1 stop at Issaquah High School.
“Our system of government provides a series of checks and balances, allowing new laws — especially ones that raise major constitutional questions—to be tested in court,” he said in a statement after the ruling. “While we’re disappointed that this close decision did not find in the states’ favor with regard to the individual mandate, the country benefits from a thoughtful debate about the reach of federal power into the legal rights of the states and the personal financial decisions of all Americans.”