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Health care ruling spurs mixed emotions

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Governor Mitch Daniels - PHOTO BY OLIVIA OBER, THE STATEHOUSE FILE.
  • Photo by Olivia Ober, The Statehouse File.
  • Governor Mitch Daniels

By Olivia Ober

The U.S. Supreme Court's health care ruling Thursday left many Hoosier Republicans outraged, some Democrats celebrating and politicos speculating the issue could become a hot topic in upcoming elections.

Gov. Mitch Daniels said Thursday that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a "dangerously misguided law" and urged that it be replaced by major reforms.

The nation's high court upheld the federal mandate that every American must have health insurance Thursday. However, it also ruled that states could opt to not include Medicaid expansion if they so choose.

"Today's ruling by the Supreme Court is very disappointing for those of us who value individual liberty and personal freedom," Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said in a statement. "In upholding key aspects of Obamacare, the Supreme Court has endorsed the concept that the federal government has virtually unlimited power over our lives through the use of its tax powers."

That was a view shared by a number of Republicans, many of whom have called for a full repeal of the law.

"Constitutionality should not be mistaken for good public policy," said Indiana Republican Chairman Eric Holcomb. "Although the Supreme Court today ruled that Obamacare is constitutional, that does not change the fact that it will drive up the cost of health care, add to our already exploding debt and hurt job creation, including within our vibrant medical device manufacturing sector."

Gov. Mitch Daniels was among the Republicans seeking repeal.

"The now undisputed facts that this federal takeover of one-fifth of our economy will worsen deficits, increase the national debt, raise health care costs, and force Americans off insurance coverage they have chosen, still argues for repeal of a dangerously misguided law and its replacement by major reforms based on individual freedom and consumerism," Daniels said.

And Republican Rep. Mike Pence, who is running for governor and voted against the health care law, said he was "deeply disappointed" by the ruling.

"This ruling erodes the freedom of every American, opening the door for the federal government to legislate, regulate, and mandate nearly every aspect of our daily lives under the guise of its taxing power," he said.

But not every politician was so frustrated by the decision.

A spokesman for John Gregg, the Democrat running for governor, said the ruling "answers questions for the thousands of Hoosiers who are currently covered under this law."

"As someone who beat cancer and as the father of a son with Type 1 diabetes, John Gregg knows firsthand how unexpected healthcare costs affect Hoosier families and our economy," said the spokesman, Daniel Altman.

And Rep. Joe Donnelly, the Democratic candidate for senator who voted for the health care law, urged consumers to take another look at what the law will do to help them.

"Hoosiers will be pleased to learn that many positive aspects of this law, such as lower prescription drug costs for seniors, making sure people cannot be dropped by insurance companies if they get sick and making healthcare more affordable and accessible, remain law," Donnelly said.

The law, he acknowledged, is "far from perfect." But he said he "will work with both parties to improve it."

Donnelly's Republican opponent in the Senate race, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, continued calling Thursday for a full repeal of the health care law.

"I am disappointed in the court's ruling today that Obamacare can stand as a massive tax on Americans," Mourdock said in a statement. "Obamacare will add trillions to our national debt, deter future job growth, and force thousands of individuals out of their existing health care coverage. The choice in the upcoming election couldn't be clearer."

Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Politics at Indiana-Purdue, Fort Wayne, said the health care law will undoubtedly be an issue in the Senate race. But he said job creation will likely still remain the first priority for voters.

"If a candidate ties this issue into job creation, all the better for that candidate," Downs said. "In some respects, what happened today is a clarification of how this will be used in campaigns. Regardless of how (the Supreme Court ruling) would turn out, it would be a debated issue. Now we have an idea of how it would be used."

Olivia Ober is a reporter for The Statehouse File, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.

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