Nevada AG pressured over possible health care lawsuit

Chris Rizo Mar. 26, 2010, 8:35am

Jim Gibbons (R)

Catherine Cortez Masto (D)

CARSON CITY, Nev. (Legal Newsline)-Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons said Thursday he wants to know very soon whether his state's attorney general will pursue legal action against the health care bill signed this week by President Barack Obama.

In a terse letter from the Republican governor to Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, Gibbons expressed frustration that Masto's office is still investigating the constitutionality of the health care overhaul.

"How long will the people of Nevada have to wait? How long does a reasonable person wait? Any reasonable person experiencing such inaction from a private law firm would have fired that law firm already," he wrote.

Gibbons said he wants Masto to decide by 5 p.m. Monday whether she will take legal action against the $1 trillion health care overhaul, as have a group of other state attorneys general, mostly Republicans.

"The health care legislation presents a question of federal powers versus states' power -- this is a second-year law school analysis," Gibbons wrote. "I understand your concern about spending public funds for frivolous lawsuits. However, a lawsuit initiated by 14 other attorneys general is hardly frivolous."

The health care overhaul signed Tuesday is the most significant expansion of medical care since Congress created Medicare in 1965 for the nation's elderly and disabled.

Critics say the law is unconstitutional, mainly because it contains a mandate for individuals to have health insurance coverage or face an annual penalty of $695. The legislation will also add about 16 million people to the states' Medicaid rolls, which will costs the states.

"This law forces all Nevadans to buy health insurance or face the wrath of the Internal Revenue Service," Gibbons said this week. "That kind of arrogance in Washington DC must be stopped and Nevadan's must be allowed the freedom to choose their own health care options."

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