Health Care Ruling: Business, Legal Implications
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
We have been devoting this hour of MORNING EDITION to the Supreme Court's decision upholding President Obama's signature health care law that came through less than two hours ago. Within minutes of the court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, health care related stocks swung up and then down.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Shares in a big hospital chain rose. Hospitals have supported the health care overhaul, which aims to put 30 million additional Americans under health care. That will mean new customers for insurance companies, maybe not as much profit as investors might like.
Today's shares in some big insurers, like WellPoint and UnitedHealth, fell sharply. That is some of the business reaction to the decision.
MONTAGNE: We'll explore more of the political and legal reaction now with NPR correspondents Ari Shapiro, Carrie Johnson and Julie Rovner, all joining us here in the studio. And we've been talking about it now for quite some time but let me go back to you, Julie. For those who have just tuned in, how surprised were you, was everybody about this decision?
JULIE ROVNER, BYLINE: Well, I think everybody was surprised at the way it came down. I mean, everybody was concerned about, you know, this Commerce Clause. Did Congress have the authority, you know, to regulate insurance as commerce? And, of course, I think this was the source of some unfortunate wrong information at the beginning because there were five justices that said no, they don't have the authority under the Commerce Clause but it turns out they do have the authority under the taxing power.
MONTAGNE: Yeah. Actually, there was one of those moments...
MONTAGNE: ...where some news...
MONTAGNE: ...for some minutes came out the headline was, the mandate has been struck down.
MONTAGNE: And then we find out a few minutes later - thank goodness, not on our air.
ROVNER: That's right. Yeah, that in fact it was not.
CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: And the way they went about this taxing power argument was very interesting. The court found that Congress didn't call this a tax for the purposes of the law and it wasn't in a tax in terms of the Anti-injunction Act, but it was an exercise of Congress's taxing power. So...
WERTHEIMER: Maybe we should say that the Anti-injunction Act says that you cannot bring a case against something...
MONTAGNE: Linda, sorry to interrupt you, but Mitt Romney is speaking. We're going to go to him right now.
MITT ROMNEY: Let's make clear that we understand what the Court did and did not do. What the court did today was say that Obamacare does not violate the Constitution. What they did not do was say that Obamacare is good law or that it's good policy. Obamacare was bad policy yesterday. It's bad policy today. Obamacare was bad law yesterday. It's bad law today.
Let me tell you why I say that. Obamacare raises taxes on the American people by approximately $500 billion. Obamacare cuts Medicare - cuts Medicare by approximately $500 billion. And even with those cuts and tax increases, Obamacare adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt, and pushes those obligations on to coming generations.
Obamacare also means that for up to 20 million Americans, they will lose the insurance they currently have, the insurance that they like and they want to keep.
Obamacare is a job-killer. Businesses across the country have been asked what the impact is of Obamacare. Three-quarters of those surveyed by the Chamber of Commerce said Obamacare makes it less likely for them to hire people.
And perhaps most troubling of all, Obamacare puts the federal government between you and your doctor.
For all those reasons, it's important for us to repeal and replace Obamacare.
What are some of the things that we'll keep in place and must be in place in a reform, a real reform of our health care system?
One, we have to make sure that people who want to keep their current insurance will be able to do so. Having 20 million people - up to that number of people - lose the insurance they want is simply unacceptable.
Number two, got to make sure that those people who have pre-existing conditions know that they will be able to be insured and they will not lose their insurance. We also have to assure that we do our very best to help each state in their effort to assure that every American has access to affordable health care.
And something that Obamacare does not do that must be done in real reform is helping lower the cost of health care and health insurance. It's becoming prohibitively expensive.
And so this is now a time for the American people to make a choice. You can choose whether you want to have a larger and larger government, more and more intrusive in your life, separating you and your doctor, whether you're comfortable with more deficits, higher debt that we pass on to the coming generations, whether you're willing to have the government put in place a plan that potentially causes you to lose the insurance that you like, or whether instead you want to return to a time when the American people will have their own choice in health care, where consumers will be able to make their choices as to what kind of health insurance they want.
This is a time of choice for the American people. Our mission is clear: If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we're going to have to replace President Obama. My mission is to make sure we do exactly that: that we return to the American people the privilege they've always had to live their lives in the way they feel most appropriate, where we don't pass on to coming generations massive deficits and debt, where we don't have a setting where jobs are lost.
If we want good jobs and a bright economic future for ourselves and for our kids, we must replace Obamacare. That is my mission, that is our work, and I'm asking the people of America to join me. If you don't want the course that President Obama has put us on, if you want, instead, a course that the Founders envisioned, then join me in this effort. Help us. Help us defeat Obamacare. Help us defeat the liberal agenda that makes government too big, too intrusive, and that's killing jobs across this great country.
Thank you so much.
MONTAGNE: Now that was Mitt Romney, the expected candidate for the Republican Party for the presidency, reacting to the Supreme Court decision upholding President Obama's health care law.
I'm going to turn to you, Ari Shapiro, here in the studio with us.
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Some parts of that were Romney's typical stump speech. He opened by saying the Supreme Court has told us the law is not unconstitutional but the law, he said, remains bad policy, which actually speaks directly to something that Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his majority opinion. He said, quote, "we do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the nation's elected leaders." He goes on to say, "we ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions." Romney clearly says they have that power but it's not good law.
MONTAGNE: Ari, thank you very much for being with us this morning. That's NPR's Ari Shapiro. We also have with us Julie Rovner and Carrie Johnson. Thank all of you for joining us for this coverage from MORNING EDITION. And know that we are ending our program now, but live coverage continues on many NPR stations and on NPR.org. This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
WERTHEIMER: And I'm Linda Wertheimer. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.