Amended complaint filed in health care challenge

By John O'Brien | May 17, 2010


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Seven states and a small business association added their names to the lawsuit challenging federal health care reform when an amended complaint was filed last week.

The National Federation of Independent Business joined Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Alaska as newcomers to the suit, filed in March after President Barack Obama signed the reform legislation into law.

The lawsuit claims it is unconstitutional to require an individual to pay a yearly penalty if he or she does not purchase health insurance.

"We firmly believe the government has exceeded its constitutional authority and we are prepared to do anything in our power to protect the people from irresponsible and unconstitutional actions by the federal government," Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said Thursday.

"As today's filing indicates, our challenge continues to gain support."

Of the seven new states, only three joined through their attorney general's office. Indiana's Greg Zoeller, Alaska's Dan Sullivan and North Dakota's Wayne Stenehjem are those attorneys general.

The other four joined through their governor's office.

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.

"Small business owners everywhere are rightfully concerned that the unconstitutional new mandates, countless rules and new taxes in the health care law will devastate their business and their ability to create jobs," said Dan Danner, president and CEO of NFIB.

"They are also concerned about their personal freedoms. This law is the first time the federal government has required individuals to purchase something simply because they are alive.

"If Congress can regulate this type of inactivity, then there are essentially no limits to what they can mandate individuals to do."

The other original state plaintiffs are South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Michigan, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Washington and South Dakota.

The lawsuit also claims states will have to broaden their Medicaid eligibility standards to provide for many more enrollees.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has filed his own challenge in Virginia federal court that says the mandate violates a recently passed state law.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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