Tenn. AG urged to sue if health care bill passes Congress

Chris Rizo Dec. 22, 2009, 2:32pm

Bob Cooper (D)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Legal Newsline)- Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper should be prepared to sue the federal government if Congress approves a health care overhaul that appears headed for passage, two state legislators said.

Republican state Reps. Susan Lynn of Mt. Juliet and Debra Maggart of Hendersonville said the federal legislation amounts to an "unfunded mandate" foisted on states because it would expand the federal Medicaid program, which is partly funded at the state level.

"This letter is to formally request that you prepare to take the appropriate legal action against the federal government in the event H.R. 3200 passes into law," they wrote to Cooper. "We request this action in order to grant Tennessee relief from the unfunded mandate contained in the bill requiring Tennessee to comply with the expansion of the federal Medicaid program."

The lawmakers said the health care bill could cost Tennessee taxpayers $1.4 billion a year amid budget shortfalls and revenue declines.

Lynn and Maggart said wording in the health care bill makes it so each state would not face a "similar and equal" financial burden.

"We see this as a violation of the equal protection of the law, an affront to our sovereignty, and a breach of the U.S. Constitution," the letter, sent Monday, said.

For his part, Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen has criticized the legislation for expanding Medicaid.

If signed by President Barack Obama, the health care overhaul would mark the most significant expansion of medical care since Congress created Medicare in 1965 for the nation's elderly and disabled.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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