Soon after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision largely upholding the federal health care law became public Thursday morning, Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester sent out press releases praising the ruling, though Tester said the announcement “doesn’t mean this responsible, constitutional law can’t be improved.”
Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg was, not surprisingly, less enthusiastic. Rehberg, who is challenging Tester for his U.S. Senate seat, said he’s disappointed but “the fight is a long way from over.”
Perhaps most interesting of the press releases to land in my inbox were those of Montana’s attorney general and auditor, who offered viewpoints specific to their jobs.
State Auditor Monica Lindeen, who is Montana’s “chief insurance watchdog,” took a shot at the “inaction” of the previous Legislature and said she remains “concerned about maintaining states’ rights to regulate their own insurance markets.” She noted that the Supreme Court decision upholds what has already been the “law of the land for more than two years now” and said her office “will continue to enforce the law, protect consumers and regulate Montana’s insurance market.”
“Legislative inaction in Montana’s last session let the Affordable Care Act preempt state law. Since then, I’ve been working hard to make Montana’s voice heard as the federal government implements the law. Now that the constitutional argument is settled, I will continue to make Montana’s voice heard and work with the next legislature to maintain as much state authority as possible.”
Attorney General Steve Bullock took the ruling as an opportunity to defend his decision not to join other states in a lawsuit against the federal health care law.
“Montana is in a stronger fiscal position than any other state in the country and we didn’t get there by wasting money on expensive lawsuits. As I have said all along, adding Montana’s name to the list of states wouldn’t have done anything but cost Montana taxpayers money. The lawsuits filed against the health care reform bill ended up in front of the Supreme Court and Montanans, like all Americans, will be governed by this ruling. We just didn’t have to spend any money litigating it.
However, today’s decision doesn’t change the fact that small businesses and families in Montana pay too much and get too little from our health care system. To create jobs in Montana, we must find ways to reduce the cost of health care delivery.”
Below are the statements from Rehberg, Tester and Baucus in their entirety. I haven’t yet received a statement from Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
“Thousands of Montana families, grandparents, young adults and kids can breathe a little easier today knowing they get to keep the cost savings and protections they have because of the health care law. Our veterans and workers are now assured they’ll be able to see a doctor when they need to. Today is a victory for the people of Montana. Now we need to move on and get back to the business of creating jobs, just like we’re doing with the Highway Bill.”
“After my daughter was born, our family had to give up health insurance because we couldn’t afford it – a situation too many other Montana families have faced. I’m pleased the Supreme Court has validated Congress’ work to ensure access to health care for all Montanans.
Today’s ruling doesn’t mean this responsible, constitutional law can’t be improved. But it is an important step forward in the fight to fix a broken system and hold big insurance companies accountable to Montana families.
Insurance companies will now continue to insure people who are sick or have pre-existing conditions – like being pregnant. Young people will stay on their parents’ health insurance plans. Seniors will continue paying less for prescription drugs. And 14,000 Montana veterans will now receive health insurance.”
“We need a check and balance. This fight is a long way from over because the Constitution gives final authority to We the People on election day. Despite this ruling made possible with the help of two freshly confirmed Obama appointees, this law has got to go. We can’t afford its $2.5 trillion price tag, our economy can’t sustain its $1.25 trillion tax increase and our health care system can’t survive its top-down government meddling or massive cuts to Medicare. For the vast majority of Montanans who never supported President Obama’s health care law, and who made their opposition obvious to anyone willing to listen, this unfortunate decision makes the November election all the more important.”
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