S.C. must continue health care challenge, AG-hopeful says

Jessica M. Karmasek Oct. 23, 2010, 10:22am


WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (Legal Newsline) - South Carolina must stay in the forefront of a federal lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's federal health care package, says the state's Republican attorney general candidate.

"I'm going to be a leader on this issue, and I think that (my Democratic opponent) wants to sit on the sidelines and do nothing about it," Alan Wilson said at a West Columbia medical practice Thursday. "No one else is going to take care of South Carolina, but South Carolina."

Appearing with Wilson was current Attorney General Henry McMaster, the man Wilson and Democrat Matthew Richardson are vying to replace.

Earlier this year, McMaster and Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum teamed up to rally other attorneys general in opposition to the health care reform package.

After President Barack Obama signed the bill into law in March, McCollum filed a lawsuit in federal court in Florida, arguing that provisions requiring individuals to have health insurance or be penalized and expanding states' Medicaid programs are unconstitutional. A total of 21 states have joined the suit.

Wilson's opponent, Richardson, has said he agrees with the lawsuit in principle but says the state shouldn't get saddled with most of the bill.

However, Wilson said Thursday that the state's portion of costs associated with the lawsuit is "minimal" compared to what the reforms could end up costing it.

South Carolina and the 20 other states are splitting a $50,000 legal bill, with South Carolina paying about $5,000, according to the Attorney General's Office.

The Obama administration had asked a federal judge to dismiss the entire lawsuit, saying the federal government can require that citizens buy health insurance or face tax penalties under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce.

Last week, that judge ruled that he wanted to hear further arguments on the insurance mandate and Medicaid expansion issues.

Many believe the lawsuit is likely to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Briefs in the suit are due Nov. 4 with arguments expected in mid-December.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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