Moderated by Tom Sabulis
Georgia congressmen on both sides of the aisle today comment on the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, including its controversial linchpin — the individual mandate to buy insurance. Read what they have to say and comment below.
Health care ruling not a victory for America
By Tom Graves and Phil Gingrey
We all now know that the Supreme Court has ruled to uphold Obamacare. The majority of justices reasoned that Congress does have the power to impose the individual mandate because it has the power to tax, thereby upholding the law. But when President Barack Obama came to the American people to justify his health care agenda, his explanation was the exact opposite. He publicly stated many times that the individual mandate in his law would not be a tax.
As Justices Alito, Kennedy, Scalia and Thomas stated in their dissenting opinion, “…to say that the Individual Mandate merely imposes a tax is not to interpret the statute but to rewrite it. Judicial tax-writing is particularly troubling.” We could not agree more.
Warnings to watch for judicial activism in this ruling spread far and wide, yet few suspected the court would uphold Obamacare in this manner, given the president and congressional Democrats justified the law via the Commerce Clause and not through Congress’s tax-writing power. By doing so, the court’s ruling will impact Americans just as the president intended. Americans are now forced to purchase a product or pay a price. There is little difference, in practical terms, between the president deeming that price a penalty and the court deeming it a tax.
Simply put, this is un-American and is absolutely not a victory for patients, physicians or the American taxpayers. Patients don’t want it, our constituents don’t want it and Republicans’ next act will be to again attempt to rid the books of this law in its entirety.
While the court upheld the president’s health care law, it did not rule on its merits, which Americans overwhelmingly believe to be a disaster. The law accomplishes the exact opposite of everything the president promised. It raises taxes and premiums, encroaches upon citizens’ freedom of choice and results in less access to health care for seniors, children and the poor.
America’s taxpayers are also learning just how much of a fiscal nightmare Obamacare truly is. The president claims his law will boost our nation’s economic engine, small businesses. But the reality is that the employer mandate is one of the most “anti-growth” provisions our country has ever seen. Costs for businesses will balloon under Obamacare, forcing many companies to cut jobs to make up for the loss to their bottom lines.
And remember when the president said, “If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan.” The reality is that up to 20 million Americans stand to lose their employer-provided coverage under Obamacare, as reported by the Congressional Budget Office.
Patients must be able to make their own health choices, select their own health care providers, and make decisions with their loved ones and physicians. It’s what American families deserve — and it is the right thing to do. Repealing this law — once and for all — is now our only means to this end.
Republican Tom Graves represents Georgia’s 9th Congressional District. Republican Phil Gingrey represents Georgia’s 11th Congressional District.
Verdict is a step forward and best is yet to come
By Hank Johnson and John Lewis
After more than a century of debate, President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress won a historic victory with passage of the Affordable Care Act. Exorbitant health care costs prompted Democrats to take the lead and do what no other Congress has been able to do — put health insurance in reach for more than 50 million uninsured Americans and more affordable for everyone.
Rather than build on this major step forward, Republicans immediately mounted challenges aimed at repeal to put insurance companies back in charge. Minutes after the highest court in the land upheld the law, multimillion-dollar attack ads hit the airwaves. But don’t be fooled.
This decision, by the most conservative court in decades, affirms that the individual mandate does not represent government overreach or undue intervention, but is constitutionally permissible. This ruling is a tremendous victory for the American people who are already reaping its benefits.
Due to a pre-existing condition, small businesswoman Amy Morton and more than 2 million Georgians — including nearly a quarter of women in Georgia — were unable to buy health insurance at any price. They were considered “uninsurable” because they were sick. Now they have health care.
Marion Nurse of Atlanta, along with 3.6 million seniors and people with disabilities, have saved more than $3 billion on their prescription drugs. “Obamacare,” as opponents derisively call it, ensures Marion can afford her heart medication.
Joe Lowery of Clarkston can now keep his two adult children on his health plan. They are just starting out and cannot afford coverage on their own. Today, more than 3 million children nationwide are covered by their parent’s insurance because of this law.
Despite Thursday’s decision, Republicans remain curiously committed to repealing the law at any cost. The bogeymen of “government takeover” and “death panels” that come between patients and doctors are figments of the Republican scare machine. You can test this by asking Morton, Nurse and Lowery, your friends, neighbors and family who reap the benefits of the law. They describe even greater access to their doctors, not less because insurance companies can no longer deny them care they need.
And the best is yet to come. The full impact of the bill won’t even take effect until 2014, when 30 million more Americans will get tax credits to buy affordable health care for the first time.
People need to scrutinize the motives of Republicans determined to repeal progress that every president since Teddy Roosevelt has tried and failed to achieve. If the law is constitutional and it works, why not build on this success, instead of gunning to destroy it? This law bans insurers from charging women 150 percent for the same coverage as men. It lifts the lifetime limit on coverage for 105 million Americans. Why would anyone want to reverse that?
This bill’s opponents have publicly sworn to deny Obama any victory, even if it puts millions of Americans’ lives at risk. Don’t let a parade of false partisan ads and scare tactics cheat you out of what’s coming to you in 2014. Let your pocketbook and your experience be your guide. Tell the governor you want the state to expand Medicaid paid for by the federal government. And tell members of Congress you want to build on this progress, not tear it down.
Democrat Hank Johnson represents Georgia’s 4th Congressional District. Congressman John Lwis represents Georgia’s 5th Congressional District.