Maine Democrats: Supreme Court health care decision 'incredible victory'

David Goldman/The Associated Press

Supporters of President Barack Obama's health care law celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012, after the court's ruling was announced.

AUGUSTA — Maine Democrats and consumers praised the Supreme Court decision upholding President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, while conservatives called it "an assault on personal liberty." Hospitals were torn, saying it presents opportunities and challenges.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage had no immediate response and Attorney General William Schneider, who joined 25 other states in challenging the law, said he was pleased the ruling will not force states to expand Medicaid coverage for the poor and disabled.

Democratic state Rep. Sharon Treat of Hallowell, who worked with a network of lawmakers from other states to fine-tune the national law, called the decision "an incredible victory for the millions of Americans and tens of thousands of families across Maine, who will soon be able to afford to get the care and medication they need."

Treat, of Hallowell, called on state officials to put aside politics and implement the law. She said it will give a family of four in Maine earning the median income of $46,000 a year a tax credit that would cover nearly 80 percent of the family's total cost of health care for the year.

More than 121,000 Mainers, or about 9.4 percent of the population, lack health care coverage. Numbers may rise due to Medicaid cutbacks authorized by latest state budget.

A conservative group with close ties to LePage, the Maine Heritage Police Center, said the decision will drive insurance rates up, tax Maine employers and threaten the viability of the private insurance market.

"This is a sad day for Mainers," said Joel Allumbaugh, director of Health Reform Initiatives at MHPC. He said the Supreme Court "has approved federal legislation that assaults personal liberty, costs $2 trillion and creates a massive expansion in entitlements."

Schneider noted that the court sided with the states by not forcing them to expand Medicaid programs beyond their own policy choices. States will not lose current levels of funding if they choose not expand Medicaid.

"In doing so, the court protected the states' rights and prerogatives," said Schneider. He also said that the individual mandate to buy insurance "could not have politically withstood the opinion of the American people if it had been branded a tax when the law was being devised."

Maine has already implemented some changes included in the national law, such as allowing parents to add coverage of children up to age 25 and outlawing denial of insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Maine has also passed a law that will allow consumers to shop out-of-state for coverage.

Legislation to create a statewide health care exchange, or insurance marketplace, was put on hold was set aside so lawmakers could await the Supreme Court's decision.

The Maine Hospital Association issued a statement saying the health care law presents challenges due to significant reductions in Medicaid reimbursements. But uninsured individuals will have a greater opportunity to be covered through either Medicaid or the private commercial market with the assistance of government subsidies, the MHA said.

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Comments

PAUL MATTSON's picture

Grecian Formula Obamacare

Grecian Formula Obamacare Survives ~ We’re All Doomed.

Pinocchio, in his address on the Supreme Court decision never mentioned they allowed it to stand because it is a FRICKEN TAX!!!

 's picture

Watch the Republicans squirm

They expected Roberts to vote no instead he invented a ridiculous way to find the law constitutional. Roberts has something up his sleeve.
The law was constitutional solely based on the Commerce Clause.

Mike Lachance's picture

To allow a ridiculous law to

To allow a ridiculous law to stand one has to resort to ridiculous measures. If Justice Roberts hadnt chosen to use the tax avenue the law would have gone down in flames for eternity. And hate to break it to you, the law was not deemed constitutional under the Commerce Clause. If you do not accept it as a tax then you do not accept it as legal. If you do not accept the SCOTUS ruling as non-commerce clause than you must not accept it as lawful regardless of the SCOTUS decision. Yet you do? Who's squirming? You.

Jim Cyr's picture

If this is truly

deemed as a tax avenue, then we also must conclude it to be "unconstitutional" solely based on the fact this bill was from the Senate and "All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." (Article 1, section 7) .

 's picture

Good point

But the Consittution says "All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the house of Representatives;...." Doesn't say all bills including a tax. Does not say that a tax penalty is a tax or that it is "for raising revenue". I think it could easily be ruled that a tax penalty is not for the purpose of raising revenue but for the purpose of modifying behavior which Roberts almost said in his ruling. Second, I don't remember the details of the bill's negiotiations, but as I remember it both houses were negiotiating at the same time. The bill could very well have been submitted first to the house, negiotiated by both and then the Senate could have amended what came from the house. Remember the Constitution does not say that the House has to pass the bill before the Senate can see it. It also doesn't mean that a bill can not be sent back and forth between the two houses before being disposed of. It only says "originate" which may mean nothing more then it be submitted to the clerk of the House first.
I think it could be the basis for some interesting legal conversations and so historical research.

 's picture

The consensus is growing

That Roberts was protecting the growingly absurd right-wing fanaticism on the court; its complete abandonment of reason (Corporations are people and have free speech rights contrary to 200+ years of Constitutional decisions); and its far to easy willingness to re-write the Constitution without justification. The court will never be irrelevent, but it was beginning to be a laughing stock which might bring about radical change in the nature of the court. Roberts could not accept that as a result if he voted the other way. Roberts tax argument is by his own words not very credible and he rejected the Commerce Clause argument. So his decision like the really absurd Bush v Gore decision was "I can't find a valid reason to affirm this law; but I can't find it unconstitutional without doing real damage to the court so I'll affirm for a ridiculous reason.". That's squirming.

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