(NEWS CENTER) -- We have compiled statements made by several prominent Mainers regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling.
Sen. Susan Collins / (R) - Maine
"The Supreme Court has the responsibility to decide
whether or not a law is constitutional and has rendered its verdict on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. I continue to believe that President Obama and Congressional Democrats overreached their authority when they enacted a partisan law that will ultimately increase health care costs,
decrease choice, impose billions of dollars in new taxes and penalties, and greatly expand the role of the federal government. Our nation faces overwhelming financial challenges, including a nearly $16 trillion debt, and this health care law will only make avoiding the coming fiscal cliff even more
"There can be no question, however, that our nation's health care system requires substantial reform. A clean decision by the Court to overturn this law would have paved the way for Congress to start over in a bipartisan fashion, as we should have from the start, to draft a health care bill that achieves the
consensus goals of improving access and quality, providing more choice, containing health care costs, and making health care coverage more affordable for all Americans.
"The Supreme Court was right to concur with the 26 states, including Maine, that challenged the healthcare law's mandate to dramatically expand their Medicaid programs or risk losing their Medicaid funding. Maine already has a generous Medicaid program. Had the Medicaid mandate been upheld, financially-strapped states would have been forced to make draconian cuts in other critically important areas such as transportation, education, and many others in order to comply with this expensive federal mandate. Ultimately, this provision
was a false promise because it would not have been sustainable.
"I also am particularly concerned about the impact that this law will have on Maine's small businesses, which are our state's job creation engine. The law discourages small businesses from hiring new employees and paying them more. It could also lead to onerous financial penalties, even for those small businesses that are struggling to provide health insurance for their
employees. Even where the law tries to help small businesses, it misses the mark. For example, I have long been a proponent of tax credits to help small businesses afford health insurance for their employees. The new credits for small businesses in the health care law, however, are poorly structured. They are phased out in such a way that businesses will actually be penalized when they hire new workers or pay their employees
more. Moreover, they are temporary and can only be claimed for two years in the insurance exchanges.
"In the wake of the Supreme Court's divided decision on this law, I continue to hope that Congress will work together to change the law substantially not only in response to the Court's decision but also to respond to the very real health care concerns of the American people as well as the budget realities we face."
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Andrew Ian Dodge / Libertarian Senate Candidate
"The SCOTUS decision allows a huge tax hike on all Americans, in fact the largest tax rise in American history. Sadly the drift to a social democratic state in this country was started long before Obamacare. Republicans are as responsible as Democrats for this sad day in American history. Clearly sending yet another Republican party man to DC will not help matters. And sending already declared Obama yes-men masquerading as independents will not help either.
Freedom & individual liberty have taken another hammer blow from the swamp that is DC today. In a massive expansion of government the Federal government has given itself the right to penalize American Citizens via taxation if it disapproves of our behaviour."
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Governor Paul LePage / (R) - Maine
"Washington, DC now has the power to dictate how we, as Americans, live our lives. This is a massive overreach by the federal government, and is infringing upon the individual choices that we, as Americans, have in pursuing our own American Dream.
This decision has verified what President Obama has refused to admit all along, which is to say this law is an enormous tax on the American people. The federal government can force you to do or buy anything, as long as they call it a 'tax.' This massive tax hike will only destroy the American economy as it forces us over the financial cliff.
This decision erodes the freedoms which made the United States the greatest country on Earth. It is a sad day, and it is now up to the American people to demand full repeal of Obamacare. The Washington DC elites cannot and should not run our lives."
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Mary Mahew / Commissioner, Maine Department of Health and Human Services
"The language of Supreme Court decision affirms that Medicaid expansion cannot be mandated and that States have the flexibility to manage their Medicaid program without risking the loss of existing matching federal funds.
We will follow Federal procedures and submit State Plan Amendments within the coming weeks that will outline the Medicaid reductions that were enacted by the Maine Legislature. Based on the Supreme Court's decision, we anticipate that these amendments will be approved."
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Bishop Richard Malone / Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland
"The Catholic Church has been a consistent advocate for comprehensive health care reform that is life affirming and is accessible to the poor and the vulnerable. We have been ultimately opposed to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its present form for three reasons. One: the ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions in contradiction to long-standing federal policy. Two: the ACA fails to provide essential conscience protections not only regarding abortion but also in the context of contraception, sterilization, and the provision of abortifacient drugs. Three: the ACA treats immigrants unfairly by denying them the opportunity to access the plan, even if they pay for it themselves.
"We believe that there is an overwhelming need to address the disparities that presently exist in our health care system today in the United States. Too many are without essential health care services and too many are underserved due to financial limitations. These needed reforms must not, however, be made at the cost of sacrificing principles of religious liberty or violate freedom of conscience rights. We will continue to press our case in the courts and in Congress."
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Rep. Mike Michaud / (D) - Maine
"I am pleased that the Supreme Court's ruling has provided the certainty Congress and the American people need on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. While I have always said it is not a perfect law, the Affordable Care Act is a huge step forward in providing affordable access to health care for Mainers.
Now that this decision is behind us, I hope we can roll up our sleeves and concentrate on rebuilding our economy and putting Mainers back to work."
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Rep. Robert Nutting / (R) - Oakland; Speaker of the House
"I am disappointed with the Supreme Court's ruling regarding the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act. Despite the president's earlier insistence that Obamacare is not a tax, the Supreme Court justices made it clear today that it is a tax, one the American people cannot afford in this struggling economy. I am, however, encouraged by the Court's finding that the federal government cannot penalize individual states by withholding Medicaid funding for failure to comply with eligibility requirements.
I also believe that what happened on the federal level today underscores the importance of the groundbreaking legislation, passed by Maine's 125th Legislature, to provide affordable health insurance for all Mainers. As the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, the approach of introducing more competition into Maine's health insurance market has already led to declining premiums. It has also made health insurance more accessible to those who could not afford it in the past. As we phase out the Democrats' failed Dirigo Health program, I believe Maine's approach to solving our health insurance problems, not Obamacare, should serve as the national model."
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Rep. Chellie Pingree / (D) - Maine
"The Court made the right decision in preserving the basic consumer protections in thehealth care reform law-like letting young people stay on their parents' policies or preventing insurance companies from cancelling your coverage when you get sick. The court did the right thing by ruling in favor of consumers instead of siding with the big insurance companies."
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Kevin Raye / (R) - Eastport; Maine Senate President
"Today's Supreme Court ruling means it is up to the voters to elect a Congress and a President who will repeal a flawed and unworkable 2,700 page law rammed through with the kind of heavy-handed partisanship that disgusts the American people and has left Washington broken and dysfunctional. It is now clear that, if the law stands, it entails an unprecedented coercive new tax on the American people. Congress has a responsibility to start over and work together to enact true bipartisan health care reform that will give working families more choice and flexibility and help reduce the cost of health insurance without exploding the deficit, burdening struggling small businesses and destroying American jobs.
Among those reforms should be measures to:
• establish Association Health Plans so small businesses can pool together to negotiate lower rates;
• allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines;
• make it easier for Americans to keep health coverage if they lose or change jobs;
• ensure guaranteed access for those with pre-existing or chronic conditions; and
• provide consumers with choice and access to clear information about health care options available to them.
I am eager to get clarification of one potentially encouraging aspect of the Court's decision that may help us achieve needed MaineCare reforms by striking down ObamaCare's troubling provision requiring states to spend more on Medicaid at a time when states are struggling with budget shortfalls."
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William Schneider / Attorney General, State of Maine
"The Supreme Court today held that the penalty that an individual must pay for refusing to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. The individual mandate does not withstand constitutional scrutiny if Congress uses the Commerce Clause as the source of its power, and the mandate could not have politically withstood the opinion of the American people if it had been branded a tax when the law was being devised.
Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for the provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.
The Court held: "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." In doing so, the Court protected the States' rights and prerogatives.
"The expansion of Medicaid on the backs of state budgets through all-or-nothing bullying tactics was rejected by the Court. We are carefully reviewing the decision to evaluate how this will specifically impact Maine."
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Sen. Olympia Snowe / (R) - Maine
"Regrettably, today's Supreme Court decision was a victory for a massive legislative overreach, broad and expansive government, and its power to tax - and in this instance, to impose an onerous new tax for Americans on a product which the health care law now requires them to purchase, regardless of cost of the plans which has yet to be determined. Indeed, the Court accurately describes the individual mandate as a tax, which Americans can ill afford especially at this time of continued economic peril. This law represents an imposition of additional burdensome costs not only on individuals, but on our federal government - far beyond the original projections.
"The bottom line is, regardless of the Court's decision, it is critical that Congress fully repeal the law so that we can go back to the drawing board. Only then can we work together to enact workable reforms that would result in more competitive health insurance markets by expediting the ability of individuals and small businesses to purchase health insurance across state lines, which I have been a longtime proponent and champion of, and that would inject unfettered competition and new coverage options into stagnant insurance markets like those in Maine.
"Frankly, if Congress had passed the simple, targeted legislation I first introduced in 2003 to allow small businesses to pool together across state lines to leverage their purchasing power to negotiate health insurance at lower costs - instead of succumbing to the special interest forces aligned against it - we wouldn't be in this position. We would already be ahead of the curve in lowering the outrageous costs of health care.
"Instead, we were presented in the Senate with a bloated monstrosity of 2,700 pages that imposed a new mandate on businesses with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance or face penalties; a $210 billion Medicare tax increase that would disproportionally hurt small businesses and do nothing to improve the Medicare program; and a law that's resulted in a total of $500 billion in additional taxes and more than 10,000 pages of new regulations.
"We still don't even have answers to the most basic questions about the plans under this law such as what the premiums, copayments, and deductibles will cost - questions I had specifically requested from the Congressional Budget Office, but that were never provided. Shouldn't we know if it's affordable?
"That's why I have voted to repeal the health care law, and why I signed onto court briefs arguing against the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Now, it remains necessary that we fully repeal the health care law and replace it with reforms that increase the competitiveness of policies such as those I've authored, as well as develop a plan for affordability by maintaining certain widely agreed upon elements of reform - such as outlawing unconscionable insurance industry practices, banning preexisting condition limitations, and allowing parents to keep children on plans until age 26."
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Charlie Summers / Republican Senate Candidate
"The skyrocketing cost of health insurance is a grave concern for our families and businesses, and this issue needs to be addressed in order to get our economy moving again. But, just like Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, I disagree with the President's plan.
"The solution to our health care crisis is not more government control of such a large sector of our economy. The solution lies in giving families and businesses more control over their health care and putting consumers back in charge.
"We also need to level the playing field by making sure families and individuals have the same tax benefits that businesses have in order to make health insurance more affordable.
"I am disappointed in the Supreme Court's ruling today because I, like most Americans, do not believe the federal government has the right to force anyone to purchase a product.
"Today's Supreme Court decision makes this Senate race more critical than ever. The Court's ruling makes it clear that the President's plan amounts to a massive tax increase. Maine people need a Senator who will provide a voice for businesses and families as we address this critical issue."
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