Indiana Attorney General joins multi-state legal challenge to health care bill

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana will join with other states in a legal challenge to the recently-passed federal health care law, Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced today.

Indiana is joining an action originally filed last week by 13 other states in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The complaint will be amended in light of the U.S. Senate on Thursday passing the House changes that accompanied the underlying health-restructuring bill the U.S. House passed March 21.

"There has been a great deal of public debate regarding this new federal program. While I personally share the grave concerns that have been expressed regarding this law, I believe it is in the best interests of all -- even those who have supported the new law -- to raise the constitutional questions to the United States Supreme Court," Zoeller said. "When the federal government imposes unprecedented legal obligations of this magnitude on state government, it is my obligation as Attorney General to join and participate in challenging the constitutionality of the bill." 

In January, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar requested that the Attorney General review the health care bill that passed the U.S. Senate on December 24 and report back to him -- as required under a state law -- as to the bill's constitutionality and its impact on the State of Indiana. 

"In that 55-page report, I wrote that the bill raised serious constitutional questions regarding congressional authority to enact both the individual mandate to purchase health insurance and the new demands on the sovereign states," Zoeller said.

Shortly after President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, a group of 13 state attorneys general filed a legal challenge in Florida. Over the past week, Zoeller discussed the best approach to a legal challenge with others in Indiana government and with other state attorneys general. 

"There are advantages to joining in with other states in raising the constitutional issues arising from the new claim of federal authority over individuals and states. Our goal by joining is ultimately to bring the constitutional questions to the United States Supreme Court for review," Zoeller said.

The Indiana Attorney General's Office has notified the Florida Attorney General's Office that Indiana seeks to join the complaint as one of the multi-state plaintiffs. An amended complaint that both challenges the modified federal legislation and adds Indiana will be filed in U.S. District Court in the near future. With 14 states now sharing in the effort -- plus a separate challenge brought by Virginia -- Zoeller believes legal costs to Indiana can be significantly reduced. 

In the report and legal analysis prepared for Lugar on the Senate version of the health care bill, the Attorney General found that the individual mandate requiring everyone to buy health insurance or face a penalty would be unprecedented; never before has the federal government required Americans to purchase any good or service as a condition of U.S. residency.


An audio sound bite of the Attorney General's comments on Indiana joining the amended complaint is found here:

A YouTube video of the Attorney General's news conference will be posted here later:

Attorney General Zoeller's February 5 report to Senator Lugar containing the legal analysis and economic impact of the Senate version of the health care bill is found here:

A February 5 news release summarizing the Attorney General's findings in his report to Lugar is found here: