DES MOINES – U.S. Supreme Court justices Thursday upheld the individual mandate – the centerpiece of President Obama’s health-care overhaul – marking a major victory for the president as he faces re-election.
The court said in its 5-4 ruling the mandate was allowable under Congress’s taxing authority.
Iowa was one of the 26 states that signed onto a lawsuit opposing the Affordable Care Act, arguing the individual mandate was unconstitutional and Congress overstepped its authority. The entire law rested on the mandate and, therefore, it should entirely be struck down, they said.
“Today, the Supreme Court handed down a disastrous decision to uphold President Obama’s destructive health care law, which means a future of higher costs, higher taxes, and increasing debt for Iowans,” Republican Gov. Terry Branstad said Thursday in a released statement. “The current health care system is nothing but a federal takeover and continues to exceed its budgeted amount every day,”
The ruling will force roughly 300,000 Iowans to secure health insurance by 2014.
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday the administration is now looking to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to make changes to the law if he’s elected.
“America needs real health-care reform and we need Governor Romney in Washington,” Reynolds said. “Governor Romney will enact real reforms to ensure that the future of Iowa and America as a whole can replace Obamacare with solutions that put Iowans in control of their own health care and preserve the economic future of Iowa’s next generation.”
Democratic State Sen. Jack Hatch, who chaired a national group of state legislators in favor of reform, is pushing Branstad to hold a nonpartisan healthcare summit to map out how Iowa will comply with the law. Branstad has yet to agree to such a gathering, Hatch said.
Branstad joined the lawsuit when he took office in January 2011. The move went against action taken by Iowa’s Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat. Miller was among 11 state attorney generals to sign a friend of the court petition in favor of the law.
Tim Albrecht, Branstad’s spokesman, said Thursday if the law were overturned it wouldn’t affect Iowans. The state has only received $8 million dollars to pay for the implementation of an insurance exchange, he said.
That, however, differs from figures from the federal government and the Kaiser Foundation.
Iowans have already benefitted from some provisions of the law, which was approved in 2010, with nearly $202.2 million allocated to the state thus far, according to the Kaiser Foundation.
Albrecht later said he couldn’t dispute the Kaiser Foundation’s figures. The state receives $6 billion a year in federal dollars, with a large share going toward health care, he said.
A portion of the $202.2 million has led to increased funding for community health centers, incentives for doctors to work in underserved areas and additional money for Medicare recipients to pay for prescription drugs, according to the federal government.
Children are also now able to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. More than 8,300 were without insurance prior to the law’s implementation, according to federal figures.
The court’s ruling means Iowans will continue to receive those benefits.
“This Supreme Court ruling will be one of the most important of our generation,” Hatch said in an interview Wednesday. “It will make no sense to the general public if this is struck down. We will lose a decade of work trying to reform America’s health-care system.”
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