POLITICS: GOP Promises To Keep Fighting As Dems Celebrate
By ADAM RUSSELL
Republican lawmakers and officials decried the Supreme Court health care ruling and vowed a continued fight while Democrats celebrated the landmark decision as a major victory for Americans, especially the uninsured.
State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, said he was disappointed the Supreme Court did not throw the law out for mandating health coverage. Eltife said the provision that appears to let states off the hook from mandated Medicaid increases is still a concern.
"My concern is and has been how to pay for this," he said. "I can't see how a business, the states or Washington can afford it right now."
State Rep. Chuck Hopson, R-Jacksonville, said the health care law will have a detrimental effect on independent health care providers and demand a larger slice of the state's budget pie.
Hopson, a retired pharmacist, sold his business last year after 38 years. He said the health care law weighed into his decision to sell.
"Anyone in business who has a large group of Medicaid or Medicare recipients is hurting," he said. "It's going to be hard on hospitals and doctors, anyone who is a health care provider."
Hopson, a House Health and Human Services Committee member, said he will work to limit increased demands on health and human service funding beginning in the next session that begins in January. Health care is approaching 40 percent of the state's general funding, he said, which is what the state spends on public education. Together, health care and public education would require around 80 percent of the state's annual revenues.
Smith County Democratic Party Chairman David Henderson called the court's ruling "incredible" and said it solidifies President Barack Obama's legacy even if he is defeated in November.
"This is good news but the irony is it probably makes the president's re-election more difficult," he said. "Republicans will mobilize because of the ruling and Democrats typically don't mobilize when they're happy."
Henderson said GOP supporters who were not keen about presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has said he would work to repeal the legislation, will back him more enthusiastically.
Smith County Republican Party Chairman Ashton Oravetz said he is hoping for a strong November showing by conservatives. He said the decisions "shreds" state sovereignty and personal rights under the Constitution by enforcing the federal government's powers to create individual mandates based on its ability to tax.
"I am just disgusted with it," he said. "This is a disaster for the economy and for health care."
Texas already faces a $14 billion deficit in January because it deferred Medicaid payments during the last session. He said the ruling will have a negative effect on doctors, businesses and individuals. Oravetz said a health care system with 50 million new Medicaid recipients will drive many doctors to quit the profession or stop taking payments via insurance or government programs. This will mean less access to doctors and health care, he said.
Henderson said he doesn't buy in to the gloom and doom prophecies by Republicans. He said doctors may be affected and the law may mean more doctors' assistants and nurse practitioners take on the general health care activities in their stead but that hospitals are a big winner because of the decision.
Now, instead of losing money on uninsured patients who require medical care, patients will be required to be covered to the benefit of health providers, he said.
Henderson said the overall health care industry and market will adjust.
Henderson County Democratic Chairwoman Marsha Head said the coverage requirement is only fair for those who can afford insurance. For those who cannot, it is cheaper to cover them via government support than it is to the uninsured to receive treatment in emergency rooms.
Mrs. Head said Americans want access to the best and most affordable medical care available and she believes the law will "provide fairness, require responsibility and help deliver the health care needed."
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said, in a statement, the American people will be the ultimate judge of "Obamacare." He said Republicans will "redouble our efforts to repeal this job-killing law."
"We must replace it with reforms that expand access and enhance care without adding trillions of dollars to the national debt and inserting Washington bureaucrats between Americans and their doctors," he said.
Cornyn said there will be time to debate the court's decision heading toward Election Day. He said conservatives must now focus on electing legislators who will dismantle the law.
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said, in a statement, the Supreme Court's decision doesn't make the health care law good policy.
"In fact, the majority said it was not ruling on fairness or wisdom of health care policy, but instead on the power of Congress to levy taxes," she said. "The court's ruling confirms the president's health care law is nothing more than a massive tax on the American people."
Sen. Hutchison said implementation of the law means most Americans won't be able to keep the coverage they have now. Citizens' health choices will be decided by the government creating new regulations to disrupt the doctor-patient relationship. She said $500 billion will be cut from Medicare to pay for full implementation of the health care law, plus $500 billion in higher taxes on individual Americans and businesses.
She echoed Cornyn's call for a conservative takeover of the White House and Congress in November.
Outside the Supreme Court, at a Tea Party Patriots rally, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, blasted the administration and members of Congress who passed the health care act into law, calling them "liars."
Gohmert said the bill was promised as an affordable way to provide health care for Americans and repeatedly defended by its supporters as not being a tax. He called on residents to "use orderly methods set forth in the Constitution to remove them from office and elect people who will abide by their oaths."
"The court made it clear that those who believed this president and those who work for the president are fools," he said. "They made it clear that when this president says something you ought to understand he may be lying."