The only thing missing was foam “We’re #1” fingers when Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire and her staff celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court health care ruling at a news conference Thursday.
The court largely upheld the national health care law approved by Congress in 2010. Gregoire relished knocking Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna for being on the losing side.
McKenna, the GOP candidate for governor, joined other Republican attorneys general more than a year ago to challenge the federal health care law. Gregoire backs his Democratic challenger, Jay Inslee.
“I’ve read his (McKenna’s statement today that he is sorry the state didn’t win, but the state did win … This is a huge win on behalf of the people of the state of Washington,” Gregoire said. “So I disagree with his process. I disagree with the substance … I just think he was dead wrong.”
McKenna joined the lawsuit over the objections of Gregoire and other Democrats. He issued a press release Thursday saying, “While we’re disappointed that this close decision did not find in the states’ favor with regard to the individual mandate, the country benefits from a thoughtful debate about the reach of federal power into the legal rights of the states.”
McKenna had hoped the court would strike down as unconstitutional a provision in the law that mandates that nearly everyone purchase health care insurance, but keep the rest of the law. However, the court upheld that core requirement in a 5-to-4 decision.
Gregoire contends the decision wasn’t even close on that part of the case. “That wasn’t a conclusion that anybody was buying on the Supreme Court. So he was dead wrong on that. I would say that’s probably a 9-0,” she said. “The dissent said ‘get rid of the individual mandate and you get rid of the whole affordable health care act. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
McKenna’s campaign manager, Randy Pepple, said in an email that Gregoire “has made it clear from the beginning of this case, often in very partisan terms, that she disagreed with the attorney general. It’s not surprising that she would continue to disagree with him today.”
As for the health care law, McKenna “has consistently said” he’d implement the parts of the law found to be constitutional, if elected governor, Pepple said. “So his focus will be on implementing health care reform in a way that gives consumers more choices and lowers the cost of health care.”