Health care debate to continue despite high court’s rulingST. PAUL – A U.S. Supreme Court ruling is the law of the land. Until it isn’t. That is the message Republicans are spreading and Democrats dreading in light of Thursday’s 5-4 decision to uphold a new federal health care law. Minutes after the ruling became public, both major parties distributed a frantic message: Send money. Beyond that agreement, however, the federal law sharply divides Republicans and Democrats.
By: Don Davis, Forum News Service, INFORUM
ST. PAUL – A U.S. Supreme Court ruling is the law of the land. Until it isn’t.
That is the message Republicans are spreading and Democrats dreading in light of Thursday’s 5-4 decision to uphold a new federal health care law.
Minutes after the ruling became public, both major parties distributed a frantic message: Send money. Beyond that agreement, however, the federal law sharply divides Republicans and Democrats.
Republicans want to capitalize on the decision to get donations for their candidates, pledging to repeal what they call “Obamacare.” Democrats said they need funds to keep their own in power and keep the Affordable Care Act in force.
“We will have to wait and see what the public decides,” state Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said about the Nov. 6 elections.
The high court’s decision that the health care plan pushed by Democratic President Barack Obama is constitutional kept it intact. Since the ruling, led by GOP-backed Chief Justice John Roberts, did not water down the law, both sides can continue to use arguments they have for three years.
Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, a Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton appointee, held out hope that Republicans and Democrats can work together as the state implements the federal health law, much of which does not begin until 2014.
“There is common ground to be found here,” Jesson said.
Overall, Minnesota reaction mirrored that from elsewhere in breaking along predictable party lines.
“Victory,” is how DFL Chairman Ken Martin headlined his email to party members seeking contributions to protect the law.
Minutes later, Minnesota Republican leaders sent their own email for donations, with the simple message: “The Supreme Court has upheld Obamacare, and there’s a lot of work for us to do in order to ensure that Obamacare is repealed.”
Representatives of the organization that brought the lawsuit against the health law were disappointed.
“Based on the decision, the federal government can now regulate individuals simply for existing,” said Mike Hickey, Minnesota National Federation of Independent Business director.
State Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, said the federal law has many benefits, “most notably for adults and children who currently cannot purchase insurance because they have a pre-existing condition. The Affordable Care Act fixes this policy, making it possible for all to purchase insurance to keep them and their families healthy.”
Former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, a conservative Republican Minnesota congresswoman, said the ruling “raises the stakes for the coming months.”
“Now, the only way to save the country from Obamacare’s budget-busting government takeover of health care is to completely repeal it,” she said.
On CNN, Bachmann called the decision “a turning point in American history. We will never be the same again.”
Bachmann, chairwoman of the House Tea Party Caucus, was in the courtroom as the opinion was read.
U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said the law will help for years: “Countless Minnesotans for generations to come will no longer have to suffer the burden of worrying about getting health insurance.”
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said she was proud to vote for the law.
“It is now time for Republicans in Congress to end their vitriolic repeal campaign and work on effectively implementing this law to the benefit of the American people,” McCollum said.
U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., was typical of Republicans, calling the ruling “a devastating blow.”
He said the action means “there is no reasonable limit on federal power.”
Republican challengers to Democratic congressmen pounced on the opportunity to blast “Obamacare.”
“Complete repeal is the only option the Supreme Court has left us,” said Lee Byberg, challenging long-time U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson.
“My opponent, Collin Peterson, has taken to defending Obamacare of late, saying that calls for repeal are ‘political,’” Byberg said. “I think listening to the people isn’t just politics, it’s what representatives are supposed to do.”
Byberg simplified his message: “If you like Obamacare, vote for Peterson. If you want it repealed, vote for Byberg.”
Peterson spokeswomen said he wanted to read the court ruling before responding.
Davis is the Capitol reporter for Forum Communications