KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

HHS Reaches Out To Defiant States For Health Law Support

Politico: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is personally contacting incoming governors - many of whom are Republicans who campaigned against the health law - to try to build relationships that could prove critical to the law's implementation. "State leaders could play a pivotal role in the success of the health care reform law by embracing it or blocking pieces of it. As the new governors - the majority of whom are Republicans - weigh what to do, HHS is stressing state flexibility and federal assistance in an attempt to ease the transition." But incoming Republicans are backing lawsuits and pledging to block parts of the legislation (Haberkorn, 12/7).

The Hill: Meanwhile state opposition continues to mount. "Wisconsin's top lawyer may bring a new lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care reform law, according to The Associated Press. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen told the AP he hasn't decided whether Wisconsin will file a new lawsuit or join the Florida challenge filed by 20 states. He has about a month to decide, because he must wait until the new governor takes office on Jan. 3" (Millman, 12/6).

Kennebec (Maine) Journal: "Maine's new attorney general believes federal health care reform is unconstitutional, and is weighing whether the state should join a pending lawsuit in Florida that is challenging it on constitutional grounds. William Schneider, the Durham Republican elected as attorney general by the Legislature on Wednesday, said in an interview that the Affordable Care Act, signed by President Barack Obama in March, violates the U.S. Constitution by requiring people to buy insurance or face an annual fine of $695" (Bell, 12/6).

(Lewiston, Maine) Sun Journal:That's a reversal from the current administration's plan. "Outgoing Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat, has reportedly estimated that the legal effort would cost about $400,000. Mills said Monday that although multiple states would split legal expenses, in cases that reach the U.S. Supreme Court, 'the attorneys fees can be astronomical, no matter how widely they are shared.'" The state has already spent $26 million preparing for the law (Mistler, 12/7).

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