KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States Mull Joining Health Care Reform Lawsuits Or Keeping Out Of It

The Associated Press/New York Times: Indiana has joined the lawsuit brought by 13 states challenging the constitutionality of a mandate on Americans to carry health insurance in the new health reform law. "State Attorney General Greg Zoeller said Monday that Indiana would be added to an amended version of the lawsuit against the law that is expected to be filed soon" (3/29).

The Kansas City Star: In Kansas, lawmakers are considering mandating that the state join the lawsuit. "A bill introduced in the House on Monday would compel Attorney General Steve Six, a Democrat, to file suit challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform bill signed into law last week by President Barack Obama. The House could vote on the legislation as early as today. It only takes one chamber to force the attorney general to file a lawsuit, and the bill isn't subject to a gubernatorial veto" (Klepper, 3/29).

The Arizona Republic: Lawmakers in Arizona are doing the same thing. A special legislative session, "which would give Gov. Jan Brewer the explicit authority to sue, seeks approval of a law stating that the federal government cannot mandate health-care coverage on Arizonans. … Republicans, who have a majority in both the House and Senate, said the lawsuit could save Arizona billions of dollars and would protect what they believe is Arizona's constitutional right to be free of health-coverage mandates." They are expected to take up the legislation Tuesday morning (Pitzl and Newton, 3/30).

The Washington Post reports, however, that Arkansas has decided to stay out of the fight with an eye on past clashes with the federal government over authority. "There are memorials here to the events of 1957, when a previous Arkansas governor rejected federal authority and tried to prevent nine black students from attending all-white Little Rock Central High School. It took U.S. soldiers to protect the students, who made history during an epic struggle over racism and federal power. To [Democratic Gov. Mike] Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D), the lawsuits filed last week and a states'-rights measure proposed for the November ballot are unwelcome echoes. In the face of an implicit request from 33 Republican state legislators to enlist in the court fight, McDaniel remains unmoved" (Slevin, 3/30). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.