Long Island had a mixed reaction to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday affirming a key component of the Affordable Care Act that requires Americans to buy health care or pay a fine.
New York’s Democratic elected officials praised the 5-4 decision to uphold much of the law, including the individual mandate—validating President Barack Obama’s signature legislation just as the presidential campaign heats up. Republicans vowed to continue their efforts to repeal the law.
“The Supreme Court has ensured that millions of Americans will benefit from critical consumer protections,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, posted on his Twitter page.
“I strongly disagree with the decision,” Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) told WABC-TV. “I still believe we should repeal the law and adopt incremental sections,” said the lone LI congressman who is a member of the GOP majority in the House of Representatives.
“Republicans were expecting to high five each other today,” said Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside). “But fortunately, the highest court in the land ko’d that plan, and quashed their ridiculous claims that providing quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans was unconstitutional.”
The 2,700-page health care reform received final approval in Congress in March 2010 after a long, hard-fought debate. The high court heard arguments over three days in March 2011 amid a lawsuit brought by 26 states opposed to the law.
The 2010 health care law will continue phasing in as planned. It’s expected to bring coverage to about 30 million uninsured people, so that more than 9 in 10 eligible Americans will be covered.
Among nearly 450 provisions are rules allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance up to age 26, banning insurers from denying coverage to children with health problems and eliminating co-payments for preventive care. The individual mandate does not take effect until 2014, giving states time to establish health care exchanges.
“We will continue to move forward with implementing the health exchange that will … help ensure that uninsured New Yorkers have access to health care,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, countering arguments from across the aisle that the law will increase the cost of doing business.
Some medical professionals qualified their support for the Supreme Court decision.
“It is time for Congress and the President to put aside partisan differences to work together to fix the many flaws … that have been identified by the many physicians who opposed the law as well as the many physicians who supported many of its provisions” said Dr. Robert J. Hughes, president of the Westbury-based Medical Society of the State of New York.
The ruling was destined to draw the battle lines for the fall elections regardless of the outcome. Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate who established a similar law when he was governor of Massachusetts, said he will reverse the law, if elected.
It will also play a central role in the rematch between Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and businessman Randy Altschuler, who lost by a narrow margin two years ago.
“As the next Congressman, I will fight to repeal Obamacare and replace it with common sense reforms,” said Altschuler.
“This ruling confirms that, as a result of the Health Reform Law, all Americans will have access to secure and affordable coverage regardless of pre-existing health conditions, age, gender or employment status,” Bishop posted on his Facebook page.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) called on Republicans in the House to drop their plans to pass a symbolic repeal next month and focus on job creation instead.
“Democrats remain willing to cooperate on potential improvements to the law, but now that all three branches of government have ratified this law, the time for quarreling over its validity is over,” he said.
Congressman King summed it up best in his TV interview.
“Life is full of surprises, especially when you’re dealing with the Supreme Court,” he said.
-With Associated Press