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Now it's up to Congress to put Americans back in control of their health care

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AP

While the White House and partisan supporters will celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act today, patient care and our economy will suffer.

Even though the health care law was not ruled unconstitutional, it’s still unworkable, unpopular and unaffordable.

It is now clear that the president’s law broke his promises not to raise taxes on the middle class.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote: “Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”

The Court also gave states the freedom to opt out of the law’s massive and expensive Medicaid expansion.

Today’s decision does not change the fact that this law is bad for patients, providers and taxpayers. By taking $500 billion from Medicare, it will make it harder for seniors to find a doctor. The law raises taxes, increases the deficit, and forces many Americans to lose the insurance they have, even if they want to keep it.

It may not be the role of the Court to decide the law's wisdom or fairness, but it certainly is the role of Congress and of the American people.

With only one-third of Americans favoring the president’s law, it is more important than ever that we continue to fight against this massive Washington overreach.

Republicans in Congress are committed to repealing the law and enacting common-sense, step-by-step reforms that protect Americans’ access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost.

That’s the kind of real reform we will enact. We will not take the same failed approach Democrats took. We won’t rush to pass a massive 2,700-page bill the American people don’t support.

We will keep in mind the words of James Madison, the father of the Constitution. He said that Congress should not pass laws “so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”

Our top priority must be to lower the costs of health care. That was the most important reason for reform in the first place – for families and small businesses alike. President Obama and Democrats in Congress lost sight of that goal. That’s why their law failed to truly reduce costs.

The president promised that by the end of his first term premiums would decrease by $2,500 for the average family. Instead, the average family premium has gone up by almost $2,400 over the past three years.

We need to let insurers provide individualized incentives -- like premium breaks -- that encourage healthy behavior.

We must end the lawsuit abuse that leads doctors to practice defensive medicine by ordering expensive and unnecessary tests. When Democrats cut deals to protect special interests, they let trial lawyers off the hook and left taxpayers to pay the bill.

The president’s health care law fell short because it confused access to coverage with access to care. It tried to expand coverage by forcing millions of people onto overburdened Medicaid rolls. Already nearly half of all doctors won’t see patients on Medicaid because of the program’s low reimbursement rates.

We should take reasonable steps to increase meaningful coverage, like allowing small businesses to join together to offer health insurance to their workers. We should also remove the red tape that prevents Americans from buying health insurance across state lines.

Democrats in Washington made a huge mistake by wasting so much time pushing this terrible health care tax. They should have focused on jobs and the economy.

After more than two years, the president’s health care law remains unpopular. It’s time for Democrats in the White House and Congress to pay attention to the needs of the American people and not the needs of Washington. They may not have violated the Constitution, but they certainly created an expensive tax that will further burden the middle class in an already bad economy.

Now it is up to Congress to help put the American people back in control of their own health care.

Republican John Barrasso represents Wyoming in the U.S. Senate. He serves in the Senate as a member of both the Energy and Environment Committees. Follow him on Twitter@Sen.JohnBarrasso.