Monday, March 22, 2010

Twelve States Gear Up To Sue If Barack Obama Signs Obamacare (HR 3590) Into Law; Alaska Studying It Further Before Joining The Effort

Update March 23rd: A new CNN report reveals there are now 14 states which are suing to block the health care bill; Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

On March 22nd, 2010, Business Week reports that at least 12 states, as of this post, are actively preparing to sue if President Barack Obama signs the Obamacare health care bill (HR 3590) into law. The list of states includes Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

Alaska will not join that list right away, despite the fact that Governor Sean Parnell rigorously condemned the bill, saying that it was useless to require people who cannot currently afford health insurance to purchase insurance (a more complete report on this statement is available HERE). But Governor Parnell had previously directed Attorney General Daniel Sullivan to review the bill to determine the feasibility of litigation, and today a Department of Law spokesman said their office wants to include concerns raised by other states as part of its analysis before making a decision to join any litigation. According to the American Legislative Exchange Council, Alaska is one of 39 states which has put forth what is called "freedom of choice health care legislation"; HJR 35 is Alaska's response, and it was referred to the House Finance Committee on March 12th. Alaska House Speaker Mike Chenault further discusses these efforts HERE.

It is smart for Attorney General Sullivan to hold back for the time being. While the common denominator of the other suits is the constitutionality of forcing all people to buy health insurance, one state, South Dakota, may also sue on the basis of the impact upon Medicaid. In addition, Sullivan can decide whether Alaska should pursue its own litigation, or save money by appending itself to another state's litigation. The efforts by the 12 states are highlighted below; click on a state's name to go to a media story for that state:

-- Alabama: The attorney general said the bill tramples "state sovereignty," by requiring people to have health insurance and by taxing people for not having insurance. May join in another state's suit rather than file an independent suit.

-- Florida: Considers the requirement that everyone buy health insurance to be unconstitutional.

-- Michigan: Considers the requirement that everyone buy health insurance to be unconstitutional.

-- Nebraska: Won't file its own independent suit, but will join another state's suit.

-- North Dakota: May challenge the constitutionality of forcing all people to buy health insurance.

-- Pennsylvania: Stated objective is to “protect the citizens of Pennsylvania whose rights will be violated when the health care reform legislation, passed last night by the U.S. House of Representatives, is signed into law by President Obama.“

-- South Carolina: Considers the requirement that everyone buy health insurance to be unconstitutional.

-- South Dakota: Attorney General Marty Jackley said the Federal health care bill could violate states' rights to govern and would aggravate South Dakota's budget problems by forcing it to spend even more on Medicaid, the state-federal program that covers health care for low-income people.

-- Texas: Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott didn't specify what would be challenged, though the mandate that virtually all individuals obtain coverage is a prime target. Abbott said a suit's necessary to "preserve the constitutional framework intended by our nation's founders and defend our state from further infringement by the federal government."

-- Utah: Considers the requirement that everyone buy health insurance to be unconstitutional.

-- Virginia: Considers the requirement that everyone buy health insurance to be unconstitutional.

-- Washington State: Considers the requirement that everyone buy health insurance to be unconstitutional.

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