April 2014

States launch lawsuits against health care reform bill

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Less than 24 hours after the House approved the health care reform bill March 21, Republican attorneys general in 11 states said they will sue to block the legislation because they believe it oversteps constitutional rights and usurps states' sovereignty, according to The Washington Post. States fear they will have to provide health care without sufficient federal support.

Ten of the attorneys general plan to file a collective lawsuit on behalf of Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.

"To protect all Texans' constitutional rights, preserve the constitutional framework intended by our nation's founders and defend our state from further infringement by the federal government, the state of Texas and other states legally will change the federal health care legislation," says Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli plans to file a lawsuit in federal court in Richmond, Va., saying Congress does not have the authority to regulate interstate commerce to force people to buy insurance. He also says the legislation conflicts with a state law that says Virginians cannot be required to buy insurance.

"If a person decides not to buy health insurance, that person by definition is not engaging in commerce," Cuccinelli says. "If you are not engaging in commerce, how can the federal government regulate you?"

Additionally, bills and resolutions have been introduced in at least 36 state legislatures to attempt to limit or oppose certain aspects of the health care reform bill through laws or state constitutional amendments. Idaho and Virginia have enacted laws, and an Arizona constitutional amendment is seeking voter approval on the November ballot.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican candidate running for governor, says the health care reform bill would cost Florida at least $1.6 billion in Medicaid alone.

Medicaid costs are expected to rise as the bill is implemented. All states would receive extra funding to cover Medicaid costs, including 100 percent federal coverage for new enrollees under the plan through 2016.


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