Calif. AG hopeful launches petition against health care lawsuits

Chris Rizo Mar. 26, 2010, 7:56am

Chris Kelly (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-A Democratic candidate for California attorney general is asking people to sign an online petition urging 13 state attorneys general to jettison their lawsuit against the federal health care overhaul signed into law this week.

The lawsuit alleges that a controversial provision of the law is actually unconstitutional. At issue is a requirement that Americans carry health insurance or face penalties.

Individuals who flout the mandate face an annual penalty of $695, while employers could face penalties of $2,000 per worker for not offering affordable health coverage.

Democratic AG hopeful Chris Kelly said health care legislation signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday will give 32 million Americans access to medical insurance and prevent patients with preexisting conditions from being denied coverage.

He said opponents of the lawsuit filed by 12 Republicans and one Democrat "see this as just another partisan attack against the Obama administration and Democratic legislators."

The legislation will add about 16 million people to the states' Medicaid rolls and would subsidize private health coverage for low- and middle-income Americans.

Urging people to sign the petition on his campaign Web site, Kelly said the health care overhaul means help for millions of Californians.

"California stands to gain tremendously from health care reform. Of the 32 million Americans who will get health coverage under the bill, as many as 7 million of them will be Californians, and everyone in our state will gain more security and stability in their health insurance coverage," Kelly said. "That's why I will do everything in my power as California's next attorney general to defeat efforts to repeal or overturn this critical health care legislation."

The federal health care overhaul marks the most significant expansion of medical care since Congress created Medicare in 1965 for the nation's elderly and disabled. Critics, including many Republican state attorneys general, say the law oversteps federal authority by requiring people to buy health insurance.

"This mandate and other provisions violate the U.S. Constitution and infringe on individual and state rights," said Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. "This lawsuit will help make sure the rights and the interests of American citizens are protected."

The attorneys general filed their lawsuit in the Northern District of Florida in Pensacola, Fla., just minutes after Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law.

Parties to the lawsuit are the AGs from Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota and Washington.

Virginia's attorney general filed a separate lawsuit in his state Tuesday. Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is the only Democrat who joined Republicans in their effort to block the new health care law.

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