After health care reform was upheld Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court, area officials had mixed reactions.
Congressman Mike Kelly (R-3) said President Barack Obama's policies are driving the nation into historically high debt and unemployment. With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (known informally as Obamacare), Kelly said the government is now taking over one-sixth of the U.S. economy.
"Today, the United States Supreme Court spoke," Kelly said in a statement issued Thursday. "On November 6, the American people will have their chance to speak."
According to Kelly, Obama made repeated assurances to Americans the law would not be a tax. However, he said, it was upheld because it was interpreted as a tax.
Americans were misled by the president, Kelly said, adding that he shares their outrage. A majority of them want the law repealed, he said, and he stands with them.
Warren General Hospital CEO John Papalia said the hospital recognizes a significant amount of uncertainty exists regarding the law. Since the law's inception, he said, the hospital has prepared for and implemented the requirements it includes for hospitals and will continue to do so.
"Yesterday's Supreme Court decision will not change our daily focus," Papalia said on Friday. "We remain committed to our patients and our community in providing compassionate quality care."
Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-5) sent out a political advertisement addressed to friends and supporters expressing his disappointment with the ruling. Despite the Supreme Court decision, he said, the law remains flawed and unsustainable.
Instead of a question of constitutionality, Thompson said the law presented a question of bad public policy. In its ruling, he said, the Supreme Court made clear Congress should correct its own mistakes.
Thompson said he spent nearly 30 years as a health care professional prior to being elected and served people facing life-changing decisions and disability. That, he said, gave him the expertise referenced in the opinion, and he also has the prerogative as a legislator to correct the law which he views as a mistake.
"The health care law raids $500 billion from Medicare, institutes a rationing panel that will deny seniors critical health care coverage, destroys millions of jobs, and threatens to take away our constitutionally-protected religious freedoms," Kelly said.
Though reforms to the health care system should include better access, affordability, quality and patient choice, Thompson said the law fails on all fronts. There are 20 million Americans set to lose their employer-based insurance as a result of the ruling, he claimed, and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has doubled its estimate of the law's cost from $900 billion to $1.8 trillion.
To reach that amount, Thompson said over 62 percent of funding comes from increasing taxes. Since the law's passage, he said average family insurance plans have increased by $2,000 per year.
For the remaining 38 percent of funding, Thompson claimed the law relies on cuts to Medicare for older adults. Already, he said that program is fiscally challenged.
Though disappointed in the ruling, Kelly said he is confident the American people want the law repealed and will continue to voice their opposition.
In the week of July 11, Thompson said House Republicans have scheduled a full repeal vote of the law. Parish Braden, communications director for Thompson's congressional office, said a successful repeal vote would then move to the Democratically-controlled Senate where only 50 votes would be needed if it is addressed as a tax. If approved, it would then need to be signed by President Obama.