The Edmond Sun

Local News

June 28, 2012

Twitter, Facebook a proverbial soap box for health care debate

EDMOND — As the United States Supreme Court announced that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare — was constitutional, many vented their opinions online.

In a 193-page opinion, the nation’s highest court voted 5-4 to uphold all points in the major health care legislation, which President Barack Obama has staked his first term on.

“I’m extremely disappointed and frustrated by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold federal health care law,” said Gov. Mary Fallin on Twitter.

Those opposed to the federal law on Twitter protested using the hashtag #FullRepeal, dovetailing Speaker of the House John Boehner’s, R-Ohio, promise to pursue a full repeal of the health care law.

U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Edmond, weighed in as well. Visitors to his website were immediately hit with a statement from the congressman.

“Today is an auspicious day in American history,” the statement reads. “This decision impacts health care access for every American,” and invited people to call him and voice their opinions.

On Twitter, Lankford hosted a sort of communal reading of the Court’s decision, providing a link to read a digital copy online.

Lankford also quoted page six of Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion, which said, “It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices,” again echoing the #FullRepeal hashtag.

On his Twitter account, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced that Congress would vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act on July 11 after the House’s summer recess.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold ObamaCare is a crushing blow to patients throughout the country,” he tweeted.

Much of the frustration is aimed at the portion of the law that preserves the individual mandate, which “requires most Americans to maintain ‘minimum essential’ health insurance coverage,” according to the court opinion.

And even though the mandate remains, it stays as a requirement for people to purchase insurance — either through their employer or privately — or pay a “[s]hared responsibility payment” in the form of a tax penalty.

Obamacare has been hotly debated since the democratic president introduced the legislation during his first year as commander in chief, but it gained intensity after it was signed into law on March 23, 2010. Lawsuits were filed about the act and the Supreme Court decided to take on its constitutionality.

The law was argued in court March 26-28 of this year and until Thursday the court’s opinion was kept under wraps.

Once the ruling was announced at a little after 9 a.m. locally, the reactions began to mount.

Many reactions were aimed at Roberts, a noted conservative who provided the deciding fifth vote that crossed party lines. His vote, along with that of justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan is what pushed the law through.

“Roberts, intently studying the trees, misses forest altogether,” wrote Oklahoma City resident Jim Quillen on Twitter.

The dissenting opinion of justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, was that the whole health care act was unconstitutional.

“[T]here are structural limits upon federal power — upon what it can impose upon the sovereign States,” wrote the justices.

In his written opinion, Roberts wrote, “the individual mandate must be construed as imposing a tax on those who do not have health insurance.”

On Facebook, James Davenport of Oklahoma City wrote, “Whether you support the Court’s decision or oppose it, I challenge you to read the actual opinion.”

Not everything was exactly gloom and doom on the health care law.  Others on the Web took a humorous look at the ruling.

“A three point from the left of Obama,” wrote Clark Duffe of Edmond on Facebook. “Gonna be tough to beat those in November.”

As the day wore on, the president and his November opponent Mitt Romney, R-Mass., got their voices out.

“We will continue to implement this law, and we will work together to improve it where we can,” read a tweet on the president’s official Twitter account, which was a mirror of the live statement Obama gave from the White House Thursday.

Speaking before the media in Washington, D.C., Romney called Obamacare bad policy and promised to repeal it if elected.

“What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do in my first day if elected president of the United States,” Romney said. “Our mission is clear: If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we’re going to have to replace President Obama.”

Romney has also faced some scrutiny over health care reform legislation he signed as Massachusetts governor in 2006.

And though the Twitter account of candidate Romney remained largely quiet, the account of his press secretary, Andrea Saul, fired up as she kept a running tally of campaign contributions made to Romney’s presidential bid.

In the hours after the court’s ruling, Romney’s campaign raised more than two million dollars by 4 p.m., according to tweets from Saul.

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