Republican opponents of health reform legislation file lawsuit

Thirteen Republican state attorneys general banded together to file a lawsuit today to cancel key parts of the national health reform legislation just minutes after President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) into law. Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington all signed on to participate in the lawsuit.

The attorneys general claim that the legislation violates the 10th Amendment to the Constitution by infringing on state sovereignty. The bill also will force an onerous burden on state budgets, diverting billions of dollars from such areas as education, foster care and the incarceration of prisoners, says Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is spearheading the lawsuit.

The bill requires most individuals to purchase health insurance, and businesses that have more than 50 employees will have to either provide coverage or pay a fine of $2,000 for each worker who has to obtain his or her own government-subsidized coverage. "To fine or tax someone just for living...that's unconstitutional. There is no provision in the Constitution giving Congress the power to do that," says McCollum.

The insurance requirement violates the Constitution's Commerce Clause, charges Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. "Congress is attempting, for the first time in our history, to use the interstate commerce power to regulate citizens who choose not to engage in commercial activity by forcing them to engage in commercial activity by buying insurance," he says. "Never before has Congress compelled Americans, under the threat of economic sanction, to purchase a particular product or service as a condition of living in this country."

The lawsuit, which was filed in the federal court in the northern district of Florida, will attempt to dismiss individual insurance requirements and associated penalties rather than nullify the entire bill.

Congressional Republicans also are putting together a battle plan to get the health reform legislation repealed or to gain seats in this year's midterm elections, reports the New York Times. When Senate Democrats take up the reconciliation bill that contains the final revisions to the health reform package, Senate Republicans use procedural maneuvers to attempt to either stop the bill entirely or remove key provisions, such as a proposed tax on high-cost employer-sponsored insurance policies.

Even some Senate Democrats are breaking ranks. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has announced he will vote against the reconciliation package if it includes student lending legislation, as well. 

To learn more about the attorney generals' actions:
- read this Associated Press article
- read the South Florida Business Journal article
- check out the Austin Business Journal article
- here's the Denver Business Journal article

For information about other efforts to derail health reform:
- read the New York Times article
- read the MedPage Today article

To learn about Sen. Nelson's stance:
- read The Hill article