Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette - photo from Peter Ross
LANSING, Mich. (WZZM) - Michigan lawmakers are reacting to today's Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.
WZZM 13's Peter Ross is in Lansing with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. He called the Supreme Court ruling a "huge overreach that deals body blow to economy" and that will help Mitt Romney win the 2012 presidential election.
Michigan was one of 25 states that joined Florida in challenging the law in court.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today issued the following statement in response to a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court which upheld the controversial "individual mandate" of the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010, commonly known as "Obamacare":
"I am deeply disappointed with this ruling by the United States Supreme Court. I am extremely concerned as well, about the impact of this decision on the personal liberties and basic Constitutional rights of Americans.
"Today's decision raises the stakes - does the reach of federal government have any limits at all? If the federal government can force you to purchase a product or pay a hefty fine, there is virtually no limit to what it can compel you to do.
"I will carefully review all aspects of this ruling. Today's opinion only strengthens my resolve to work with other national leaders to repeal ObamaCare and fight for and defend the Constitution."
Schuette agreed with the dissent by Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas and Alito, which said:
The values that should have determined our course to¬day are caution, minimalism, and the understanding that the Federal Government is one of limited powers. But the Court's ruling undermines those values at every turn. In the name of restraint, it overreaches. In the name of constitutional avoidance, it creates new constitutional questions. In the name of cooperative federalism, it un¬dermines state sovereignty. [p.65]
In a 5-4 decision issued today, the nation's highest court found the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010, including its controversial "individual mandate," may stand. Schuette will review the decision and consult with affected state agencies to determine what actions may be necessary, if any, to comply with the ruling.
The ruling came in response to a legal challenge filed by Michigan, 25 other states and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), which questioned the authority of the federal government under the Commerce Clause to force citizens to purchase health insurance or face a fine.
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Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., issued the following statement today on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act:
"Today's Supreme Court ruling is an important step toward universal health care coverage, which is long overdue. It ensures that millions of Americans who have health insurance will be more able to depend on their coverage without fear of losing it to the whims of an insurance company. It ensures that millions more who do not have insurance today will not be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. And it ensures that millions of parents will be able to keep their children covered to age 26. I have always believed in the law's ability to make a real and positive difference in peoples' lives, and I'm gratified that the court's decision protects the interests of American families who have so much to gain from health insurance reform.
"We were right to rein in the power that insurance companies held over our health care. I believe Americans will broadly support today's decision, and that they will reject Republican attempts, already announced, to deprive Americans of the protections of the Affordable Care Act by repealing it."
Gov. Rick Snyder today issued the following statement on the Supreme Court ruling:
"The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is legislation that misses the point on the most important reforms needed in our health care system. In the meantime, it has been a detriment to the economic recovery of our country by causing massive uncertainty regarding medical costs which discourages job creation.
"The greatest health care opportunity to our citizens is prevention in terms of both personal quality of life and societal costs. The Michigan Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan is a good starting point as it is aimed at reducing obesity and improving overall wellness in Michiganders by focusing on four healthy behaviors and four health measures.
"In addition to addressing wellness, our nation needs to make a systematic review of the cost structures of our health care system. We have great people in our system, but we have built a system that focuses on spending more and more to solve acute care problems rather than a person-centered medical home model focused on the overall well-being of the individual.
"While I may not agree with everything in the law, now that the Supreme Court has essentially upheld the Act, we must act quickly to avoid an undue burden on Michigan residents and job providers. Working with our legislative leaders to establish the MiHealth Marketplace will allow Michiganders to make decisions regarding what will be covered as opposed to Washington, D.C. making those decisions for us. It will also allow us to draw down federal dollars to assist with the costs of complying with the law.
"Implementing this law will require an immense amount of coordination between the public and private sectors. We plan on working closely with Michigan consumers, businesses and health providers to ensure that the decisions we make have as much of a positive impact on Michigan as possible."
Congressman Bill Huizenga released the following statement after the Supreme Court released its landmark decision on ObamaCare:
"Since its inception, Americans have questioned the legality and common-sense of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as ObamaCare. The Administration, including President Obama himself, has argued that the individual mandate was not a tax. However, today's Supreme Court ruling determined that ObamaCare is indeed a tax on the American people and that the federal government has the power to enact such a tax. While the constitutional question has been answered, the common-sense question remains: should Americans be burdened with another onerous tax on individual liberties? With unemployment remaining above 8% for over 40 consecutive months and small businesses continuing to struggle, another tax on middle class families and America's job creators will only make matters worse.
"Today the Supreme Court affirmed that the Administration has once again misrepresented what ObamaCare is. The next step forward for House Republicans and America will be full repeal of the President's health care law. One of my first votes as a member of Congress was to repeal ObamaCare and I remain philosophically opposed to the President's approach. Today's decision is a stunning blow to both individual liberty and limited government and leaves me wondering what can't the federal government force private citizens to buy?"
In light of the United States Supreme Court decision regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), Catholic bishops across the nation have renewed their plea to Congress to revise the law to fix problems that are in conflict with Catholic church teaching.
Most Rev. Walter A. Hurley, bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids and member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), affirms that the bishops of the United States continue to support comprehensive health care reform, especially access to care for the poorest and most vulnerable as they have for generations.
However, Bishop Hurley said that the bishops opposed passage of the ACA, in part because of a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that requires many faith-based employers to include in their health benefit plans coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and artificial contraceptives. The Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) filed a lawsuit May 21, challenging the federal mandate.
"We are studying the Supreme Court's decision to determine whether and how it impacts our case," said Hurley. "We'll have more comment on the matter once we have had sufficient time to review the Court's decision and its full impact on the Michigan Catholic Conference lawsuit against the HHS mandate."
The MCC has been in contact with legal counsel to fully understand the implication of the Supreme Court decision.
Bishop Hurley is involved in the Michigan Catholic Conference's legal action in his role as vice-chairman of the Conference. Neither the diocese, its parishes, schools nor any other Catholic organization of the diocese is a plaintiff in the suit.
"The government is requiring Catholic entities to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs by providing, paying for, and facilitating access to services," said Bishop Hurley.
The Michigan Catholic Conference, which is based in Lansing and serves as the public policy arm of the Catholic Church in Michigan, has provided employee health benefits to Church workers in the state since the 1970s. It currently provides medical benefits to more than 1,100 Catholic institutions and approximately 10,000 employees and their dependents. The Conference's Board of Directors includes the seven arch/diocesan bishops in the State of Michigan, five laypersons, a religious sister and a diocesan priest.
The lawsuit, one of a dozen put forth by Catholic entities across the country, was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, which is where co-plaintiff Franciscan University of Steubenville is located. The defendants named in the suit are Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Hilda Solis, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor; and Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, along with their respective agencies.
Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today issued the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the health care law: "While I certainly disagree with the Supreme Court's opinion, it does not change the American people's opinion that the law is unaffordable, unworkable, and still must be repealed. This law was controversial as it was being crafted and it has only grown more unpopular as its reach into individuals' lives has grown, and threatens to expand further still. "For the past two years, Republicans have undertaken the kind of careful scrutiny of this law that should have occurred long before it was enacted. With each layer of the law we peeled back, we found more evidence that Obamacare does not allow Americans who like their health care coverage to keep it.
Instead, it is a law that would increase costs and taxes on individuals, states, and businesses, making it harder to grow our economy. "The stakes could not be higher in states like my home of Michigan, where spending is finally under control and jobs are being created after years of high unemployment - but the positive gains will be short lived if the costly mandates and taxes of Obamacare are allowed to kick in. "We remain committed to reforming our nation's health care system, and doing so without following the same failed path that brought us to this point of legal confusion, public opposition, and economic uncertainty. One of the mistakes of Obamacare was that it tried to fix every problem in the health care system with one massive new law crafted in Washington. And we ended up with an unpopular and unworkable law because its authors failed to listen to the American people and failed to address the most pressing challenge to our health care system in rising costs. "Governors across the nation have long sounded the alarm on the unfunded mandates in Obamacare and their impact on state budgets and the sustainability of the Medicaid program.
Today's decision on Medicaid acknowledges at least a small measure of restraint on federal power by rejecting the notion that Congress can cut off all Medicaid funds to a state simply because it chooses not to participate a massive expansion of the program it cannot afford. But much more needs to be done to preserve state flexibility and avert the spending explosion."