COLUMBIA, S.C. (Legal Newsline) - South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster defended his decision to challenge federal health care reform in an editorial last week.
McMaster wrote that the recently passed legislation is an "encroachment on the liberty of individuals" and that it is his sworn duty to challenge it. The piece ran Thursday in the Washington Examiner.
McMaster, a candidate for governor, is one of 16 state attorneys general challenging the law, signed March 23 by President Barack Obama.
They say it unfairly contains a mandate for individuals to have health insurance coverage or face an annual penalty of $695.
"This forced tax penalty constitutes an unlawful direct tax," McMaster wrote.
"Some mistakenly compare mandating federal health insurance to automobile insurance. Driving is a choice and a privilege. If you choose to drive, a state is within its constitutional authority to require insurance to do so on its roads. A more accurate comparison would be requiring all citizens to have auto insurance, even if they don't drive, and then penalizing them if they do not purchase it."
McMaster, a Republican, also claims the the package will create a $1 billion spending increase in the next 10 years by adding 500,000 Medicaid recipients.
"Medicaid was originally designed to be a voluntary federal-state partnership, but this new health care law turns it into a compulsory, top-down federal program in which the discretion of the states is removed," McMaster said.
"A 61-percent increase in Medicaid enrollees will force the state to spend billions of dollars to hire and train new employees to comply and implement the expansion of the state Medicaid program under national health care."
McMaster concluded that the package is a "freedom-killer and a jobs-killer."
McMaster is part of a group of AGs that filed a challenge in Florida federal court. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed a separate challenge in Virginia federal court.
Some attorneys general say the challenge has no legal merit and is a waste of state resources. Georgia Republicans filed articles of impeachment against Attorney General Thurbert Baker because he denied Gov. Sonny Perdue's request to join the challenge.
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.