Patrick B. McGuigan
Republican elected officials in Oklahoma quickly decried the U.S. Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling upholding taxpayer subsidies for insurance coverage, the most significant financial aspect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), widely known as ObamaCare.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who crafted some of the original arguments against the subsidy system at the heart of the expansive legislation, issued a statement on the “SCOTUS: (Supreme Court of the United States) ruling on Thursday morning (June 25):
“It’s disappointing the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Obama administration’s executive rewriting of the Affordable Care Act by ruling on the context of the statute rather than the plain language of the law. The court acknowledged that the challengers’ arguments were strong, but focused instead on the outcome of their opinion. There’s no doubt the rule of law took a hit today, but I won’t be deterred from continuing to fight for the rule of law and our founding principles.”
The Court's ruling in King v. Burwell also garnered a critical response from state Senate President Pro Temp Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa. In comments sent to CapitolBeatOK, he said, "Today's ruling on Obamacare is unfortunate. Yet again, we are forced to comply with a flawed law that has presented challenges from the beginning. Instead of improving health care across the nation, Obamacare has burdened families with increased insurance costs, restricted the decision-making authority of states, and negatively impacted our economy.
“Now is the time for our leaders in Washington, D.C. to rally around solutions that truly reform this broken health care system."
Also assailing the High Court's reasoning was one of the two medical doctors serving in the Legislature. State Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, declared:
“The Supreme Court today struck a blow to the rule of law and the American people. This law was badly written, and study after study since Obamacare was implemented more than four years ago shows that the American people are staunchly against it, particularly in Oklahoma.
“As the author of both the 'opt-out' amendment that Oklahoman]s overwhelming adopted in 2010 and House Bill 1021, which would have nullified Obamacare in Oklahoma, I understand exactly how our citizens feel about this law.
“The Supreme Court stood on the side of those who believe a socialist government takeover of healthcare and private health decisions is best for America. I disagree, and so do the overwhelming majority of Oklahoman's.”
Ritze contiued, “The best solution to this government-created healthcare crisis is getting government out of health care altogether. We should be promoting health savings accounts, allowing health insurance companies to sell insurance products across state lines and making existing plans portable – just like with homeowners or automobile insurance – so that when individuals leave a job they can take their healthcare coverage with them.
“As a Board Certified Family Practice & Surgeon and Chairman of the Public Health Committee, I believe in promoting wellness, not socialized medicine.”
From Oklahoma City, the state's largest free-market think tank responded shortly after Thursday morning's ruling. Jonathan Small, executive vice president for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), said:
"The good news for Oklahoman's is that our own state lawmakers have been hard at work implementing state-based solutions for health care. Our lawmakers have worked to protect the doctor-patient relationship, make Medicaid work for patients, lower Medicaid costs, and improve the effectiveness of state and education employees' health insurance and care.
“The robust efforts by these lawmakers to pass and implement pro-free market health care reforms should continue, especially given the failure of the federal government on health care issues."
Small's colleague, OCPA President Michael Carnuccio, echoed the legal analysis embraced by the three dissenters in the 6-3 ruling:
"Today's Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell ignores the clear text and meaning of a federal law.
It also wipes away arguments that Oklahoma should build a state Obamacare exchange.
“The Supreme Court ruling that individuals can get subsidies on the federal exchange renders state exchanges entirely unnecessary, while making clear that Obamacare is not only controlled by, but is the responsibility of the federal government. States should continue to decline to participate in and implement state-based exchanges.
“Responsibility to repeal Obamacare and replace it with policies that actually improve health outcomes has been and remains with Congress."