U.S. Rep. Tim Scott of Charleston will join fellow Republicans to try to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act following last week's split Supreme Court ruling that upheld much of the law.
The court in its 5-4 decision Thursday said Congress acted within its taxing authority when it passed the "individual mandate," which requires nearly everyone to obtain health care insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty.
The law also makes profound changes in how many Americans buy and receive health care coverage. Since it became law in 2010, its provisions have been gradually phased in -- a method the authors designed as a means of slowly building support.
Already, children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage, dependents can remain on their parents' policies up to age 26, and millions of Medicare beneficiaries are getting price breaks on prescription drugs.
Supporters argue that the more people learn to enjoy these benefits, the less anger they will feel toward the more controversial aspects of the law.
But many Americans fail to see that the federal health care law represents a large tax increase that will kill jobs, Scott told a Hilton Head Island Republican lunch group Monday. Scott is running for election in a district that will include Beaufort County.
Scott said the law, dubbed by opponents as Obamacare, includes a higher Medicare tax rate on individuals making more than $200,000 a year or $250,000 for married couples, and adds a tax on investment income to fund the federal health program for seniors. The law also includes an excise tax on so-called "Cadillac" health plans.
Companies with more than 50 workers must also offer health benefits to every full-time employee or pay a penalty of $2,000 per worker.
"It represents the wrong direction and the wrong legislative agenda that seems to destroy that which undergirds this nation, which is free enterprise and the freedom to choose," Scott said. "What this says is, 'If you don't make the choice I want you to make, I'm going to penalize you by taking your resources out of your pocket because you didn't do what I told you to do.' And that's wrong."
Scott said it felt as though he was "punched in the gut" when he heard of the court's ruling, and wanted to shed a tear.
"It was a political decision and not a constitutional decision," he said.
Republicans have said they'll try to repeal the law starting with a vote July 11 in the House of Representatives, where the party holds a large majority. But they need 60 votes to get it through the Senate, and 67 to get past President Barack Obama's certain veto. They have 47 seats in the Senate now.
State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, said South Carolina needs to be more aggressive in pushing back against the health care law, adding that the legislature will likely back Gov. Nikki Haley in opting out of the Medicaid expansion. The court said states could opt out and not lose all federal funding they receive for Medicaid, as they would have under the original health care legislation.
"This whole notion we can continue expanding health care for everyone in South Carolina and still afford to pay for it, is ridiculous," Davis said. "We need to start pushing back against that. Again, it's not enough to shake our fist up in Washington, D.C. There's plenty of things we can do in Columbia. And, frankly, we're not doing it."
McClatchy News Service contributed to this article.
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