A narrowly divided U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama's health care law Thursday, saying the individual mandate that most Americans get health insurance or pay a penalty is constitutional.
Chief Justice John Roberts announced the 5-4 decision, arguing that the mandate is constitutional only because the penalty "functions like a tax" and is therefore allowed under Congress' taxing power.
As expected, the reactions among Texas lawmakers to the ruling are mixed and generally follow party lines.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, called the ruling a "stomach punch to the American economy."
Perry said the federal health care reform bill is also bad for health care and "bad for freedom."
In a statement, the governor had plenty of adjectives to describe how he felt about the Affordable Healthcare Act, calling it "convoluted," "burdensome," "overreaching" and a "monstrosity." The Supreme Court "utterly failed in its duty to uphold the Constitutional limits placed on Washington," Perry said.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the law is "fundamentally flawed."
"Before the health care bill became law, the president repeatedly assured the American people that he would not raise taxes on the middle class. He declared emphatically that the individual mandate was 'absolutely not a tax increase,'" Cornyn said in a statement.
"But the Supreme Court of the United States has made absolutely clear that the only way Obamacare can be upheld as within the constitutional power of congress is for it to be considered a tax increase and a tax increase on every single American, regardless of income."
He said the only way to stop the "overreaching" by the federal government, including the health care bill, "is to elect a new president and a Congress that will repeal and replace this fundamentally flawed law."
Texas' senior senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison, also a Republican, called the bill "nothing more than a massive tax on the American people."
Hutchison said that when the law is fully implemented, "most Americans won't be able to keep the coverage they have now."
She said health insurance coverage choices will now be made in Washington, D.C., and new regulations will "disrupt the doctor-patient relationship."
Hutchison also said Americans will have an opportunity to do something about it on Election Day.
But locally, state Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, said the court made the right decision in upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Healthcare Act.
The decision reiterates "that healthcare is a right for every American and not just a privilege for the well to do," Deshotel said in a statement.
Deshotel said he believes Texas will be the "nation's greatest beneficiary" of the AHA.
"Currently we have the highest percentage of uninsured persons and our legislature continues to cut funding for public health services," he said. "Because of today's outcome our healthcare system will now embrace preventative measures that wills save countless lives and dollars in the future."
Another Democrat and candidate for U.S. Congressional District 14, Nick Lampson, had a less partisan reaction.
"Under our current system, families and small business owners are just one serious accident or illness away from bankruptcy, are denied health care by insurance companies because of pre-existing conditions, and insurance companies charge women more for health insurance than men and they are often denied life saving tests," Lampson said in a statement to the Record.
"Congress needs to quit this partisan bickering and get serious about creating jobs and getting our economy back on track. Obamacare is not perfect, and we still have a long way to go in ensuring all Texans have access to quality, affordable health care. I know that by working together we can find workable solutions to our health care problems. Both sides got it wrong here, so I challenge both sides to come together and solve these problems."