Indiana AG joins in health care lawsuit

Chris Rizo Mar. 29, 2010, 2:00pm

Greg Zoeller (R)

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's attorney general is joining 13 of his counterparts from around the country in challenging the constitutionality of the nearly $1 trillion health care overhaul signed into law last week by President Barack Obama.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced Monday that he will be added to an amended version of the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The lawsuit is led by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.

The 14 Republican attorneys general are challenging a provision of the law that Americans carry health insurance or face penalties. Beginning in 2014, 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.

"There has been a great deal of public debate regarding this new federal program. While I personally share the grave concerns that have been expressed regarding this law, I believe it is in the best interests of all -- even those who have supported the new law -- to raise the constitutional questions to the United States Supreme Court," Zoeller said. "When the federal government imposes unprecedented legal obligations of this magnitude on state government, it is my obligation as Attorney General to join and participate in challenging the constitutionality of the bill."

The law marks the most significant expansion of medical care in the United States since Congress created Medicare in 1965 for the nation's elderly and disabled.

Current 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 suing over the legislation signed into law last week.

Last month, Zoeller issued a lengthy report on the health care bill as it sat before Congress, saying the proposal would cost the Hoosier State millions of dollars if enacted.

The 55-page report was submitted to members of the state's congressional delegation. U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., requested the report.

In his report, Zoeller, who served as an aide to former U.S. Sen. Dan Quayle, R-Ind., said the health care legislation would "create unintended consequences for patients, taxpayers and Indiana's medical-device industry."

The attorney general's report said rather than reduce health care costs, the health care bill would instead just subsidize rising health care costs through an expansion of Medicaid and through the proposed insurance exchange where individuals could purchase plans as a large bloc.

Under the plan, Indiana's Medicaid costs would increase by $2.4 billion over 10 years. The legislation, he said at the time, could also cost the state as much as $80 million to implement insurance changes as the Medicaid program expands.

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