Alaska Lawmakers Respond to Supreme Court Health Care Ruling
Opinions fall along party lines
ANCHORAGE - After the U.S Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama's sweeping health care reform law in a 5-4 ruling earlier today, Alaska lawmakers find themselves divided on the decision.
"We must repeal and replace this law with a bill that increases accessibility, portability and affordability for the American people," wrote Representative Don Young. "That's what I intend on fighting for."
Senator Lisa Murkowski joined her Republican colleague in speaking out against the decision, and said she was prepared to work with Capitol Hill lawmakers to repeal and replace the law with "something smarter, leaner and more responsive to Alaskans."
The law's "individual mandate," which requires Americans to obtain health insurance by 2014 or pay a tax, was also upheld by the court, which based the decision on the power of Congress to impose taxes. Democratic Senator Mark Begich, the only member of the Alaska delegation to speak in favor of the decision, said he was pleased by the expanded benefits the law would bring to Alaskans.
"While the law is not perfect, the status quo was not an option," he wrote in a press release. "Health care costs were skyrocketing and insurance companies were in charge of escalating those costs."
The court made some changes to the provision of the bill expanding Medicaid eligibility, leaving the decision to expand to the states themselves, and Begich said more than 30,000 Alaskans could now be eligible for coverage.
"It's time to move past the politics and come together to make the law work for Alaskans," he wrote.