Oklahoma’s congressional delegation vowed Thursday to repeal the federal health care overhaul, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing the law to stand.
Voting 5-4, the court upheld virtually all of the Affordable Care Act, including a key provision requiring nearly every American to purchase health insurance. The court approved that provision — known as the individual mandate — under the federal government’s power to levy taxes.
The court’s decision means President Barack Obama’s administration can continue moving toward its goal of covering millions of uninsured Americans.
Oklahoma lawmakers said they thought the law represented the wrong approach to health care reform.
“Regardless of its constitutionality, most Americans agree that Obamacare should be repealed,” U.S. Rep. Tom Cole said in a written statement. “House Republicans have already passed more than 30 pieces of legislation to repeal and replace this misguided law and we will continue our efforts until the will of the American people is upheld and Obamacare is history.” Obama’s signature domestic achievement is aimed at making health insurance available to all by bringing coverage to about 30 million uninsured Americans. Most of the debate over the law has focused on the individual mandate which requires nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a fine. The law provides subsidies for people who can’t afford coverage, and most employers will face fines if they don’t offer coverage for workers.
The law also expands the Medicaid insurance program for the poor, which is jointly run by the federal government and the states.
The court’s ruling upheld the expansion but said the federal government cannot threaten to withhold states’ entire Medicaid allotment if they don’t participate.
The 2010 law has sparked fierce opposition from Republicans who have repeatedly attacked it as an unconstitutional expansion of federal power. They reserved particular venom for the individual mandate, contending Congress cannot require Americans to buy health insurance.
U.S. Sen. James Inhofe said he was disappointed the court upheld the individual mandate under Congress’ taxing authority.
“By ruling it a tax, I suspect that this issue will come up again in 2015, when that portion of the law goes into effect,” the Oklahoma Republican said in a statement. “In the meantime, even though President Obama said in 2009 that this is ‘absolutely not a tax increase,’ it turns out Obama and the Democrats have levied an enormous tax increase on the middle and lower classes.”
Some state lawmakers also said they were unhappy with the court’s decision.
“Oklahomans have voiced their opposition to the federal health care bill from the very beginning, having approved a constitutional amendment to block the implementation of this bill in our state,” said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. “We believe that, rather than Big Government bureaucracy and one-size-fits-all solutions, the free-market principles of choice and competition are the best tools at our disposal to increase access to health care and reduce costs.”
State Rep. Todd Thomsen said he respected the court’s position but thought the justices made the wrong decision. But he said the court succeeded in clarifying the true nature of the Affordable Care Act.
“They did a good job of articulating what Obamacare is, and that is a historic tax increase,” the Ada Republican said in a phone interview.
State Sen. Susan Paddack, a Democrat, was traveling on Thursday and was not available for comment.