N.D. politicians toe party lines in reaction to rulingNorth Dakota politicians stood firm on party lines Thursday after the Supreme Court published a ruling that upholds the most significant and controversial portions of the 2010 health care reform law. Democrats voiced support for the Supreme Court’s decision, while vowing to improve the law as it exists now.
By: By Kristen M. Daum , Forum Communications , The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — North Dakota politicians stood firm on party lines Thursday after the Supreme Court published a ruling that upholds the most significant and controversial portions of the 2010 health care reform law.
Democrats voiced support for the Supreme Court’s decision, while vowing to improve the law as it exists now.
Republicans doubled down on pledges to “repeal and replace” the law, repeating a mantra they’ve had for more than two years.
Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad said that while the court’s ruling “ends the debate and confirms that the health care reform law is constitutional,” he plans to work in the Senate to improve the law as it exists today.
Conrad voted in favor of the law when it passed Congress in 2010.
The Democrats who will lead North Dakota’s ballot in November offered more measured reactions to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp — who has drawn criticism for her evolving position on the 2010 law — repeated her support for the more popular elements of the law while also pledging to “fix the bad pieces.”
“Moving forward, I’ll work with both parties to control costs, keep the good pieces intact and fix the bad pieces, like the individual mandate,” Heitkamp said.
The individual mandate requires all Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine. Critics of the law argued the mandate was unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court upheld the mandate today, ruling it was allowed under the U.S. government’s power to levy taxes.
Like Heitkamp, Democratic U.S. House candidate Pam Gulleson offered cautious praise.
Gulleson said the Supreme Court decision is important for North Dakotans, but “I think it’s clear that there is much that still needs to be changed in the health care law.”
“As I’ve traveled the state, I’ve heard over and over how our current health care system means one medical emergency can ruin a life of building financial security,” Gulleson said. “Today’s ruling is important for the thousands of North Dakotans who have faced these challenges.”
Across the aisle, North Dakota Republicans united around a pledge to fully repeal the 2010 law and offered general solutions on how to replace it.
“The simple fact remains: The massive government takeover of health care that President Obama forced on the American people is not the right approach,” Republican Senate candidate and current North Dakota Rep. Rick Berg said in a statement.
Berg said he’d continue to “fight back” against the law in favor of legislation that “puts patients and their doctors — not government bureaucrats — back in control of their health care decisions.”
Berg has been a consistent supporter of repealing health care reform.
He cast a vote on the House floor last year to repeal the bill in its entirety and his office said he’s also voted 30 times to repeal, dismantle and defund portions of the 2010 law.
Republican U.S. House candidate Kevin Cramer said he was “disappointed” by the Supreme Court’s decision and also reiterated his support for full repeal of the law.
“Despite this ruling, it remains disastrous legislation,” Cramer said. “Americans deserve better from their government.”
Republican Sen. John Hoeven, who also opposes the 2010 law, said the Supreme Court ruling “makes it clear that President Obama’s health care law ... is not only government-run health care, but is a tax on the American people.”
“This is not the approach Americans want or deserve,” Hoeven said. “Congress must repeal and replace this government-run approach with step-by-step, market-based reforms that lower costs and empower individuals to choose their own insurance and health care provider.”
Kristen Daum is a reporter
at The Forum of Fargo-
Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.