Political reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Obama Administration's health care plan could be gauged Thursday by the political party affiliation as Republicans expressed anger and disappointment and Democrats indicated changes in the law may be needed.
"I am disappointed the Supreme Court upheld a health care plan that clearly goes against our Constitution. Not only is Obamacare a bad policy that has increased healthcare costs, exploded the deficit and hurt small businesses, it is based on dubious Constitutional authority," U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley, R-Wheeling, said.
"We will continue our fight to fully repeal Obamacare. All Americans should have the right to make their own health care choices. Restricting choice and punishing individuals and employers is the wrong way to reform health care, whether the court agrees or not. Once Obamacare is fully repealed, we will not rush into the same mistakes made by President Obama and the Democrats. We need to listen to the American people to get health care reform right, and we should take the time to do so," remarked McKinley.
But U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. called for a national dialog on health care.
"One concern I have is the impact of the Supreme Court ruling today on the Medicaid expansion. When we wrote the law, we worked very hard to make sure that low-income Americans who aren't currently eligible for Medicaid, but still can't afford to pay for health insurance, are given an affordable option through the expansion of Medicaid. It appears the ruling could have seriously undermined their health care options. The decision still leaves in place an enormous financial incentive for states to do the right thing and expand coverage to this group," Rockefeller said.
"There simply is no moral justification for anyone sitting back when individuals and families throughout our state don't have health insurance. And there is no financial justification for a health care system that forces people to seek care in the emergency room because they can't afford insurance. Uncompensated care for the uninsured adds $2,000 on average to family health insurance premiums and $760 on average to individual health premiums in West Virginia," he added.
"We should all recognize that the health care challenges that many West Virginians and Americans face are not going to go away unless Congress takes additional action to repair this bill. Now that the Court has ruled, we can move forward with fixing what is wrong with this bill and saving what is right. I have always been determined to reduce the burden on states from the Medicaid expansion, and this ruling affirms my position and makes clear that states must have the flexibility to live within their means by determining Medicaid eligibility as each state sees fit. I have always said one size doesn't fit all," declared U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
"In addition, I believe there are several parts of this bill that are good for West Virginians, especially ending discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, improving access to preventive care and eliminating the prescription drug doughnut hole for seniors. Looking ahead, we must work to find common ground on the individual mandate, which doesn't make sense to West Virginians. I am determined to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move forward with a solution," Manchin said.
"We know what the law is but as I've said before, I will continue to do what is best for West Virginia. We all know health care costs continue to rise and our health care system must be more efficient. We're going to review the Supreme Court's ruling, and work with our federal delegation on how we move forward," commented West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
A statement from the Wheeling-Charleston Catholic Diocese from Bishop Michael J. Bransfield repeated opposition by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to the Affordable Care Act.
"First the ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, contradicting longstanding federal policy. The risk we identified in this area has already materialized, particularly in the initial approval by the Department of Health and Human Services of "high risk" insurance pools that would have covered abortion," Bransfield stated.
"Second, the Act fails to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context. We have provided extensive analyses of ACA's defects with respect to both abortion and conscience. Third, ACA fails to treat immigrant workers and their families fairly. ACA leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money. This undermines the Act's stated goal of promoting access to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially for those most in need," observed Bransfield.
Weirton Medical Center spokesman Kevin Brown said Thursday afternoon the hospital will meet the law's requirements.
"While it is too soon to comment on the specifics or the impact of (Thursday's) Supreme Court ruling on health insurance requirements for individuals, we can say that, as the Affordable Care Act unfolds over the next few years, Weirton Medical Center will be ready to implement measures to accommodate the law's requirements. We are committed to ensuring that all members of our community have access to the quality health care services they need and expect."
Monsignor Kurt Kemo, administrator for the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville called for prayers for lawmakers, "to pass legislation that will fix conscience, abortion funding and immigration problems in the present law."
"For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops in the United States have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform to ensure access to life-affirming health care for all, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable.The decision of the Supreme Court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all, nor eliminates the need to correct the fundamental flaws, including allowing use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, failing to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context, and failing to treat immigrant workers and their families fairly," Kemo stated.
Franciscan University of Steubenville President, the Rev. Terence Henry, T.O.R. repeated a stand he has taken since the 2010 Affordable Care Act became law.
"The Health and Human Services mandate remains an unjust infringement on religious liberty, and we cannot in good conscience comply with its orders. Accordingly, we will continue standing with our bishops to pursue avenues of redress in order to defend our right to practice our Catholic faith," Henry noted in a prepared statement issued Thursday afternoon.
The university joined other religious institutions in May to file suit against the Obama Administration and the healthcare law.
At that time Henry predicted a nationwide lobbying effort if the healthcare mandate was allowed to remain law.
"We will contact our Ohio senators and representatives as well as senators and representatives across the country. We have alumni living in every state and we will ask all of them to contact their representatives and urge the repeal of this law," Henry said during a May press conference announcing the lawsuit.
"The ruling by the Supreme Court on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does not change the mission of Trinity Health System. We will continue to serve the health and human services needs of our local communities while holding fast to our core values of reverence, service and stewardship. We have been preparing for healthcare reform even before it's adoption and will continue to be responsive to the needs of our area," Trinity Healthcare System spokesman Keith Murdock said in a prepared statement.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)