- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 28, 2012

The small business lobby that helped spearhead the legal challenge to President Obama’s health-care law expressed sharp disappointment Thursday over the Supreme Court’s rejection of their case.

Officials of the National Federation of Independent Business predicted the court ruling will lead to massive job loss and closed businesses as the national health plan is rolled out. Most of the provisions will be implemented by 2014.

The NFIB in a statement called the president’s plan a “tax on all Americans” that amounts to a “broken campaign promise” from the Obama administration not to raise taxes. The court ruling by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. relied heavily on the government’s taxation powers in allowing the law to stand.

“The power and control of health care decisions should be in the hands of the consumer, not the government,” said Dan Danner, president and CEO of NFIB.

“We are concerned about the precedent that this will set in Congress’ ability to mandate other aspects of our lives, but we will move forward from today to continue to fight, harder than ever, for real health care reform for our membership,” he added.

In its 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate, the most controversial aspect of the Affordable Care Act, which requires all Americans to buy health care.

The Supreme Court’s ruling produced a mixed reaction on Wall Street, with many hospital stocks going up in price, while insurance stocks declined.

HCA Holdings, the largest private-owned hospital, closed at $29.47, up $2.86. Community Health Systems, another hospital, was up $2.05 or 8 percent, as were Tenet Healthcare (up 5.4 percent) and Health Management Associates (up 8.8 percent).

But insurers did not do so well. Aetna was down 2.7 percent to $39.85, while WellPoint dropped 5.1 percent to $65.90.

The NFIB was among a number of business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, and Americans for Tax Reform, that criticized the ruling.

“This day will go down in history as the day when Americans lost a part of their freedom - the freedom to choose what they want to buy with their own money,” said Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center.

Thomas Donohue, president and CEO at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the health care law will deliver a big blow to the economy.

“While we respect the court’s decision, today’s Supreme Court ruling does not change the reality that the health care law is fundamentaly flawed,” he said. “Left unchanged, it will cost many Americans their employer-based health insurance, undermine job creation, and raise health care costs for all.”

The National Association of Manufacturers, meanwhile, contends the new health care plan will raise costs on employers.

“Since the beginning of the health care debate, manufacturers have consistently made it clear that lowering costs should be the central focus of any health care reform effort,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of NAM.

“It is clear that the Affordable Care Act did not address this issue and, in fact, will make matters worse,” he added.

But the nation’s labor groups are thrilled with the outcome. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said he is
“pleased and relieved” with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“Today’s decision means that we can continue moving full speed ahead to implement and build upon the Affordable Care Act,” he said.

• Tim Devaney can be reached at tdevaney@washingtontimes.com.

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