KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Officials Weigh In On Health Overhaul Challenge

Legal Newsline: "In recent weeks, more than a dozen amicus briefs have been filed in the multi-state lawsuit against President Barack Obama's federal health care package. … A total of 20 states are suing the federal government to stop implementation of Obama's health care law. ... Others, including Kansas, are talking about joining the fight." The original lawsuit, filed in March by outgoing Florida Attorney general Bill McCollum, "argues that requiring individuals to purchase health insurance or face a $695 yearly penalty is unconstitutional." Governors of Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Washington, among others, argue the health care act should be upheld. In their 20-page brief, filed Nov. 19, the governors "point to their current state budgets, which they say have been 'severely impacted by the spiraling costs of services and insurance and declining access to affordable care.'"

Attorneys general in Kentucky, Oregon, Maryland, Vermont, and Iowa "also filed a brief in support of the federal government. They, too, are worried about the impact on their states' budgets if the act is not upheld, but also those residents in need of health care." A group of 32 U.S. Senators and House majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, additionally filed a 20-page brief on Nov. 18, arguing that the commerce clause of the Constitution "does not authorize Congress to mandate the purchase of a particular product - only to regulate commercial activity in which people are engaged," effectively rendering the "individual mandate" provision of the health care law unconstitutional (Karmasek, 11/30).

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