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Southeastern Metro Responds to Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare

Residents, local health care providers and politicians weigh in on the Supreme Court decision that President Obama's 'Affordable Health Care Act' does not violate the Constitution.

At a in Lakeville on Thursday, two men were huddled over a laptop computer, a game of cribbage set to the side.

"This is an outrage," one man said to nobody in particular.

"I'm moving to Canada," the other replied.

"You can't. They have government-run health care, too," the first man said.

"Well what the heck? I can't believe this—Roberts in the majority, for the bad guys," the second said as both laughed.

Larry Kringle, the first man, and Jimmy Johnson, the second, were reacting to today's news that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act that President Barack Obama signed into law last year. Dubbed Obamacare, the decision rested largely on whether an "individual mandate" requiring all Americans to purchase health care was Constitutional.

Five of the nine justices agreed that the key to the mandate—the requirement that people either buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty—is a kind of tax, which Congress is allowed to impose using its taxing power, according to the Bloomberg News-operated SCOTUSblog.

"It's a bad day for the Constitution," Kringle, 71, from Elko said. "Granted, I'm a Republican, and maybe you think I'm biased, and you're probably right, but this is just a bad law that'll hurt more than it'll help."

Johnson, 68, from Rosemount, agreed.

"Next thing you know, the government will have the power to tax our breathing and eating," he said. "I know that's dramatic, but you get my drift. It's too much power."

U.S. Congressman John Kline (R-Second District) took that notion a step further, saying: "If Washington can penalize private citizens for failing to buy government-approved health insurance, then there is no reasonable limit on federal power."

Kline was ultra-critical of the court's decision.

"The Supreme Court’s decision is a devastating blow to the American people," said. "The vast majority of the public does not support this government takeover of health care and Congress must continue its efforts to repeal."

But Eagan resident and District 51 Senate candidate Jim Carlson had a much different perspective on the court's decision.

“We absolutely need it," Carlson said, referencing the Affordable Care Act. "We are getting so far behind our peer nations on providing health care and a healthy work force that it’s hurting us economically."

Carlson believes the court ruling will be a political stumbling block for conservative opponents of the Obamacare legislation, who risk appearing insensitive to the health care needs of Americans by continued opposition to the bill.

“In a nutshell, I think this is the best thing that could’ve happened to President Obama," Carlson said. "It will take some thought for the opponents now, because obviously 26 states with Republican attorney generals have taken up this suit and it was shown as a waste of money and time."

Fairview Health Services, which operates an Eagan clinic and many other clinics and hospitals in the Twin Cities, released a statement saying they were happy a decision has been made.

"Overall, we are pleased that the Supreme Court has released their decision because now we know the context in which we move forward," the statement read. "Fairview remains committed to transforming care and payment systems to improve care, improve patient experience and reduce the total cost of care. For us, it is all about creating greater value for those we serve."

Eagan-based Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota—the state's largest insurance provider—will continue implementing the law in a "manner that strives to serve the best interests" of Minnesotans, the company wrote in a statement.

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield considers reform to be something that also happens outside of legislation. We believe the kind of systematic change needed to tackle rising health care costs and drive improvements in overall health can and is being advanced though innovative collaborations with providers, consumers, employers and other stakeholders," the company said.

Tell us and other Eagan Patch readers what you think of the decision in our comments section below.

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