Washington state reaction:
Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna (from a press statement):
“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,” said Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna. “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.”
A majority of the Court also agreed with states’ argument that the federal government may not take away existing Medicaid funds from states that choose not to participate in the expansion of the Medicaid program.
"Nothing in our opinion precludes Congress from offering funds under the ACA to expand the availability of health care, and requiring that states accepting such funds comply with the conditions on their use,” the Court wrote. “What Congress is not free to do is to penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding."
“Now the federal government must treat the states as equal partners, as both seek to provide health coverage for the poor,” said McKenna.
Gov. Chris Gregoire (Facebook page):
An important day in Washington state for the 50,000 young adults who have gained coverage through their parents' plan, our 60,000 seniors who get help with prescription drugs, and millions no longer subject to unfair insurance practices. Look forward to the day when 800,000 people in our state can use the Health Benefit Exchange to get insurance they need but must currently go without.
King County Executive Dow Constantine
“I celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act. A stable, healthier future has been made possible by this ruling. This is affirmation of our nation-wide bold move toward achieving quality affordable healthcare, and we are moving in the right direction. 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.
I would like to extend my thanks to the members of our Washington State congressional delegation who championed the Affordable Care Act. They should be proud of their work on this historic legislation.
Even as today’s ruling upholds the Affordable Care Act, we are not going to rest on our laurels and turn away from efforts to reach those in need; we will continue to make the healthcare system more efficient. We owe it to our residents to keep searching for solutions to the healthcare issues that affect both their money and their health.”
King County Councilmember and Board of Health Chair Joe McDermott (District 8):
“I’m relieved that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act and that the political pandering of many state attorneys general from across the Country proved futile.
“No complex law is perfect, but the Affordable Care Act is a significant step toward a more perfect union. The law is vital as we work to provide more affordable health care for all Americans.
“I urge Congress to protect the law’s Prevention & Public Health Fund to support our efforts in driving down the costs of health care.
“Today’s ruling clears the way for nearly a quarter of a million people in King County who do not have health insurance to finally have affordable options in 2014.
“I look forward to continued work in monitoring and supporting the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”
Washington State Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur
“This morning’s verdict by the Supreme Court finally defines this legislation as exactly what it is: a tax on the middle class. When President Obama was trying to sell his ill-conceived legislation he ‘rejected the notion’ that it was a tax; today the Supreme Court told him that he could not deceive the American public with his rhetoric any longer.
“I think it is important to highlight the distinction made by Justice Roberts in his final determination. He declared that this mandate was not constitutional under the interstate commerce clause or the necessary and proper clause. It was only deemed constitutional as a tax – the very word the President has rejected repeatedly in his pitch to the public. But spinning the story won’t change the facts, Mr. President. Today’s decision sets the new precedent of a federal tax to compel behavior. It is an ominous one, and serves as a very slippery slope for our country.
“This law is unusual in that opposition to it has grown since its passage. The majority of Americans still oppose major portions of this act and I doubt the Court’s decision will alter that. Though the mandate was deemed a tax by the Supreme Court, and therefore constitutional, it is not now, nor has it ever been, good policy for our country. Today’s decision will mobilize our base around a greater than ever urgency to elect Mitt Romney in November, and a majority of Republicans to the House and Senate, as we work towards untangling this mess and regaining our liberties.”
Metropolitan King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson (District 1):
“The Supreme Court’s validation of the Affordable Care Act is a victory for the health and well-being of all King County and Washington residents.
“With today’s decision, millions of Americans have the peace of mind knowing they will benefit from the law’s reforms, including access to more affordable prescription medication for seniors. Moreover, insurance companies can’t deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or impose lifetime limits on health benefits.
“Roughly one million Washington residents are uninsured, and the court’s favorable ruling is critical to moving forward with reforms that will bring us closer to ensuring all Americans have access to affordable health care.”
The King County Council passed a motion in 2010 acknowledging the benefits of health care reform and supporting implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In 2010, Ferguson wrote a letter to the State Attorney General questioning the legal merit of joining the federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Over 100 attorneys joined the letter asking the Attorney General to reconsider his decision.
Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09):
"I’m pleased the Supreme Court has upheld the Patient Care and Affordable Health Care Act. This law is the best available step forward for our health care system that is in dire need of reform.
"The Affordable Care Act will help nearly 30 million uninsured Americans obtain health insurance and will cut our deficit by more than $1 trillion in the long-term with mechanisms in place to curb fraudulent and wasteful medical spending. It gives Americans the promise of better care by keeping health care and insurance providers accountable for the well being of their patients. The law has also established free preventative care and has empowered states to create new and more efficient methods to deliver the highest quality options for health care.
"The problems with our current health care system will not disappear, and if we do not continue to make decisions in the best interest of all Americans, it will only get worse. I am disappointed that attorney generals across this country including Robert McKenna, decided to waste precious state dollars to fight expanding access to affordable and quality health care for all Americans instead of working to improve our broken health insurance system. Instead of challenging parts of the law that will only move us closer to ensuring all Americans have the health care they need, we should strengthen the provisions that increase efficiencies and decrease costs, and modify sections that would be most burdensome to Americans.
"Maintaining our antiquated, inefficient health care system that has drained our economy and leaves millions without health care is no longer an option. Congress must now work to continue finding ways to improve our health care system by putting the health and well being of Americans first. "
Bellevue Patch will add to this section as we receive information.
The Supreme Court upholds the requirement that most Americans have health insurance on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to the Associated Press.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the majority opinion to uphold the individual mandate was written by Chief Justice John Roberts. Roberts joined the 5-4 majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, upheld the mandate as a tax, although concluded it was not valid as an exercise of Congress' commerce clause power. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined in the majority.
Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Bellevue resident, recently defended Washington state's participation in the suit challenging the constitutionality of the mandated purchase of health insurance in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to the Issaquah Press.
At the heart of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the mandate which requires people to buy health insurance or face a penalty. Opinions have varied on whether the federal government has the power to force such a purchase.