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At the Aspen Ideas Festival, Sebelius, Frist, Waxman, and Others Respond to King v. Burwell Decision

June 27, 2015  • Tripp Brockway, Guest Blogger

Above, watch the full conversation on the King v. Burwell decision.

The first day of Spotlight Health started with fireworks in the form of a panel discussion on the King v. Burwell US Supreme Court decision. With former US Heath Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former Sens. Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Nancy-Ann DeParle, and former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) offering their perspectives, there wasn’t a shortage of big quotes surfacing on social media.

1. Daschle joined Twitter for the first time and marked his inaugural tweet to support the Supreme Court’s decision.

2. Former Secretary of Health and Human Services and a major force in crafting and implementing the Affordable Care Act, Sebelius called King v. Burwell the “strongest possible” ruling the Supreme Court could have passed down.

3. Waxman, who was a leader in the House of Representatives during the ACA’s drafting and negotiation, proclaimed that “Republicans dodged a bullet” with the King v. Burwell decision. According to Waxman, Republicans were “going to have to figure out what to do with all the people who would have lost their insurance.”

4. A Former Senator and medical doctor, Frist outlined his view that the current bill is flawed in his op-ed on the decision, putting him at odds with the rest of the panel. Where they agreed, however, is that the King v. Burwell decision institutionalized the Affordable Care Act. In the words of Frist, because of King v. Burwell, the ACA has “reached the stature of Medicare or Medicaid.” 

5. While Frist expressed his continued doubts about the ACA, the rest of the panel was largely optimistic that King v. Burwell has created an opportunity for Congress to improve health care policy. The panelists expressed their hope for reduced polarization and the parties working together to legislate solutions now that the judicial uncertainty surrounding the ACA is gone. In the words of Daschle: 

“If I were [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell, I would do things that bring Democrats and Republicans together. What the American people really want to see is Congress working together.” 

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