AG: Florida Health Challenge to Proceed

By: Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida
By: Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida

Tallahassee, FL - Florida’s lawsuit against the new federal health care law isn’t any less important in light of a ruling Monday by a federal judge in Virginia invalidating a key component of the law, backers of the Florida challenge said.

In statement released shortly after Monday’s ruling, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said the state will proceed to make arguments Thursday in Pensacola asking U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson to go further than the Virginia ruling by invalidating the expansion of Medicaid to nearly 2 million anticipated additional recipients whose care would be partially paid by the state under the new law.

“The implementation of this law could add more than 1.9 million Floridians to the Medicaid program, a tremendous financial burden on our state at a time when our budget has no room for extra expenses, McCollum said. “As our lawsuit heads to oral argument this Thursday, I am hopeful we will obtain a favorable decision that will strike down the individual mandate and also halt the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars required to be spent by states to implement the Affordable Care Act.”

Ultimately, the issue is likely to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the Viriginia case, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson struck down a provision of the health care insurance act that requires individuals to carry insurance whether they want to or not. The Minimum Essential Coverage Provision is critical to finance the other components of the plan.

“The unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers,” Hudson wrote. “At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance – or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage – it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate.”

While Florida’s lawsuit also challenges congressional abiity to require coverage, the lawsuit additionally claims the sweeping reform of the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system violates state government rights in the U.S. Constitution and will force massive new spending on already hard-pressed state legislatures.

The new healthcare law is a cornerstone of Obama's domestic agenda and aims to expand health insurance for millions more Americans while curbing costs. White House officials have insisted it is constitutional and necessary to stem huge projected increases in healthcare expenses by providing coverage for those who don’t have it, whose care is paid for by everyone else.

The Florida case has been joined by 19 other states. Plaintiffs also include the National Federation of Independent Business.

Vinson has scheduled testimony for Thursday to determine whether to make a summary judgment in the case, which most observers say will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. In September, Vinson refused to dismiss portions of the case as requested by Department of Justice attorneys.


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