Delegation Says Court's Ruling Clears Way To Implement Health Overhaul
06/28/12 5:50PM By John Dillon  Download MP3
Vermont's Congressional delegation is pleased and relieved that the Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama's health care law, including the mandate that all Americans have health insurance or pay a fine.
The delegation says the ruling clears the way for Vermont to receive federal money to make health coverage more affordable.
Vermont Congressman Peter Welch says the decision also puts pressure on both parties in Congress to fine tune the law.
"It's been civil war here on health care since we arrived for the past couple of years. And we've not spent any time trying to implement or improve the law we have because there's been this pending debate about whether it's constitutional," he say. "That's resolved. So all of us have some responsibility to try to make this work."
The Affordable Care Act is designed to extend coverage to 30 million people without health insurance. It bars insurance companies from rejecting people with pre-existing conditions, and it allows adult children to remain on their parents' policies until they're 26.
Vermont's Independent Senator Bernie Sanders praised the court's decision. But he says the federal law does not go far enough. Sanders says the Supreme Court has now paved the way for Vermont to be a leader in implementing a Medicare-style, single payer system.
"And I think Vermont can play a historic role in moving to that direction," he says. "And by the way, this ruling makes it easier for us to do that because many hundreds of millions of dollars over a period of years will come into the state to help us go forward with universal health care."
Senator Patrick Leahy said the Supreme Court has helped get the country closer to resolving a problem it's failed to address for generations.
"We've heard people talk about health care for all since the time of World War II, and now we finally have it," he says. "And I think people will look at this, certainly in schools they'll be reading the Supreme Court decision. But I also think that now Americans are going to say, okay, stop the posturing, make it better. Remember you're supposed to represent all Americans."
But despite the optimism of the state's congressional delegation, the high court's ruling has also reignited opposition to the law in Congress. Republicans have vowed to intensify their efforts to repeal the legislation.