Mar. 29, 2012 | Rep. Pete Stark lashed out at Republican colleagues on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health Tuesday for the late timing of the hearing on the Affordable Care Act and characterizations of the law as now a “Democratic bill.”

“It is fine to label a bill in Congress as a “Democratic” bill or a “Republican” bill. But, once those bills become law, they don’t belong to one party,” said Stark. “Whether folks like it or not, health reform is America’s law, not the “Democrats’ Law.” Stark was responding to a press advisory sent by the GOP-controlled committee that did not reference the act as established law.

Stark, one of the major authors of the House’s portion of the landmark health care reform bill last year, attended last Tuesday the beginning of oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court over the constitutionality of the law’s mandate for every American to purchase health insurance. “I must also admit that I’m not sure how anxious I am to hear it all again,” he said Thursday. “But, here we are.”

Typically a thorn in the side of conservatives, Stark charged Repubicans with backing away from their own ideology on the health insurance mandate. “I’d also note that Democrats don’t hold the patent on an individual mandate,” said Stark. “Many leading Republican elected officials and policy experts–ranging from Newt Gingrich to Mitt Romney to the Heritage Foundation’s Stuart Butler–have all advocated an individual responsibility requirement for the purchase of health insurance.”

In fact, it is rooted in Republican ideology of ‘personal responsibility.’ Why is it fair to have free-riders in the system who impose costs on all of the rest of us? New found Republican opposition to this concept at times makes it seem as though we have all fallen down the rabbit hole. The simple reality is that you can’t guarantee affordable, quality health insurance in the private health care marketplace without an individual responsibility requirement.”

A portion of Thursday’s subcommittee hearing also dealt with the impacts of so-called Obamacare on employers. Stark said the hearing was superfluous since the portion of the law in not yet in effect. “The committee already had a hearing on the economic effects of the employer mandate in January 2011,” he said. “Nothing has changed on that front since the provisions in question are still not in effect.”