(June 30, 2012) Reactions to the Supreme Court’s vindication of the Affordable Care Act have run the gamut, a testament to the divisive nature of President Obama’s landmark health law.

“It’s pretty exciting, it was no surprise to us,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who led the Democratic charge to pass the measure, as she addressed reporters on Capitol Hill, Thursday.

Black congressional lawmakers touted the law’s benefits to African Americans and commended the court for advancing the cause of universal health care.

“I believe not only in the constitutionality of the law, but the right—not the privilege—of quality healthcare for all,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “For far too long, access to healthcare has been in the hands of those who value money over lives. I commend President Obama for leading the charge for this change.”

Health care advocates also chimed in with approval.
“The court has spoken, and the constitutional debate is done. This ruling tells every anti-Obamacare Republican governor it’s time to move forward with full implementation and end the political nonsense,” stated Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now, which ran a $53 million grassroots and media campaign to pass the Affordable Care Act. He added, “The days of health insurance company price-gouging and denials of care are over.

“Every family and small-business owner who worries about health care and their future can breathe a sigh of relief.”

Unsurprisingly, many businesses expressed dismay at the court’s decision. The National Retail Federation (NRF) called the law “a controversial and partisan measure riddled with punitive mandates and penalties that were as unreasonable as they were unworkable.”

“Although the Court upheld the law’s constitutionality, many problems remain: it penalizes employers too much; it doesn’t do enough to reduce the cost of health care; and it is unreasonably complicated and difficult to implement and administer,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a statement. He predicted, “This law will have a dramatic, negative impact on every employer and employee in the United States and further constrain job creation and economic growth.”

Republican lawmakers were equally vocal in their disapproval and reiterated their vows to repeal the health law.

“This is a sad day for America,” stated Florida Republican Allen West, referring to the Act’s “individual mandate,” which requires all Americans to acquire minimal health insurance or pay a penalty or “tax.”

“Benjamin Franklin did indeed state, ‘In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.’ However, Dr. Franklin never envisioned the federal government would use its power of taxation to punish people for not purchasing health care,” he added. “Today, individual sovereignty in America has been defeated.”

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO