Like most, I was stunned by today's Supreme Court ruling upholding most of the provisions of ObamaCare.
Most believed at least the portion of the law mandating the purchase of health insurance would be struck down with perhaps the entire measure struck down. This was because Justice Anthony Kennedy – who is largely the moderate swing vote on the court – was seen as tipping his hand toward striking down the law during oral arguments.
The read of Kennedy turned out to be correct, but what most did not expect was Chief Justice John Roberts joining with the four liberal-leaning justices in authoring the opinion that upheld most of the provisions of ObamaCare.
Although Robert's wrote in his opinion that that Congress did not have the power under the Commerce Clause to mandate individuals to purchase a product (in this case health insurance), he upheld the law based on Congress' ability to impose taxes which he argued was the substance of the fine imposed against those who do not purchase the mandated health insurance.
So there is your non-lawyer blogger summary of what happened. But what does this mean to Arkansas politics?
State Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson points to the portion of the opinion that does strike down a portion of the law that seeks to compel states to adopt the relevant portions of ObamaCare by threatening to withhold Medicaid funds from states that do not comply. The majority opinion ruled that Congress does not have this power and struck down this portion of the law.
“Conservative members of the Arkansas Legislature have attempted to delay spending taxpayer dollars on the implementation of the President's Affordable Healthcare Act. Based on a cursory reading of the majority opinion, it appears that there is no longer any compulsion upon the state to implement the Federal Act,” wrote Hutchinson in a statement following the ruling.
“What this means is that the battle has now shifted to the States. We as conservatives, will not support spending tax payer dollars to implement this overly burdensome Act in Arkansas. If enough states refuse to implement the exchanges, the scheme will collaps
e under its own weight. If Republicans take over a majority in the Arkansas.”
Lt Gov. Mark Darr and other Republican legislators echoed this reaction at a press conference Thursday afternoon at the state capitol promising to do everything they can to stop or at least slow down the implementation of ObamaCare at the state level. They pointed to the state's ability to oppose the expansion of Medicaid as an area they could do this based on today's ruling.
On the other side of the aisle, Arkansas Democrats applauded the ruling.
“Here's to the Constitution,” wrote DPA communications director Candace Martin on Facebook with a link to the Court's decision.
“Thanks to the #SCOTUS for making a very difficult decision on the ACA. This is a big step towards a healthier America!” tweeted Democratic State Rep. Hudson Hallum.
Scott Ellington, Democratic candidate for the First Congressional District, praised the ruling in a statement as well.
“With today's ruling the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the Affordable Care Act. Their ruling means American families will have stable and secure health insurance coverage,” stated Ellington who called on Republican opponent Rep. Rick Crawford “to reject his leader's pointless and hyper-political vote to repeal the ACA.”
By stark contrast, Crawford continued his call for repeal.
“While I am disappointed in today’s ruling, it does nothing to change the fact that the President’s healthcare law is not working for Arkansas. I will continue to push for full legislative repeal,” said Crawford.
So it looks like it is clear that ObamaCare will be one of the overriding issues of the 2012 election and both parties appear to have chosen sides.