BOSTON (AP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, including the individual insurance requirement at the heart of the law, is being hailed as a vindication for Massachusetts.
Massachusetts laid the groundwork for the 2010 federal health law with its 2006 health care initiative and is currently the only state with an "individual mandate," requiring that nearly all residents have insurance or face tax penalties.
Attorney General Martha Coakley, who filed a brief with the high court supporting the federal law, called Thursday's ruling "a victory for millions of Americans who will see increased access to care."
"Massachusetts served as a model for national health care reform and we have already experienced the many benefits of increasing access to quality, affordable health care," Coakley said. "With today's decision, I hope our nation will continue to move forward and do the same."
Democratic U.S. Sen. John Kerry also hailed the decision and faulted opponents of the law who he said have tried to distort its requirements.
"Those who have sought to demonize health reform need to put an end to their scare tactics," said Kerry. "This needs to begin a new day, where the test is not what you can oppose but what you can propose."
But Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown said that while the federal law may be constitutional, it's wrong for jobs and the
"In Massachusetts, we had already dealt responsibly with the problem of our uninsured without raising taxes or cutting care to our seniors," Brown said. "All we got out of this massive new federal entitlement is higher taxes, cuts in Medicare and additional debt at a time when we can least afford it."
Former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who signed the 2006 state law after pushing for the individual mandate, said the court was wrong.
Romney, who says health care changes should be left to the states, also said the federal law is killing jobs.
"I will act to repeal Obamacare" if elected president, said the GOP candidate for the White House.
But many more in Massachusetts praised the decision.
The Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, which represents insurers, and the Massachusetts Medical Society, which represents about 24,000 doctors, both issued statements saying they were pleased the court upheld the constitutionality of the federal law.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino also said the ruling will "extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, level the playing field between consumers and insurance companies and help us to contain runaway healthcare spending."
Before the court announced its ruling, Gov. Deval Patrick said on WTKK-FM that it would be a "tragedy" if the court rolled back the federal law.
Patrick planned a press conference for later in the day.