KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Some States Reject Health Reform Lawsuits As Others Prepare To Join Fray

The New York Times: In Georgia, "the Democratic attorney general has rejected" the idea of lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality of the recently enacted federal health overhaul "as 'frivolous' and 'a waste of taxpayer money.' Now ... [31] Republicans in the state legislature signed a resolution Tuesday calling for the impeachment of the attorney general, Thurbert Baker." Mr. Baker is planning to run for governor, a race "expected to be closely fought, to succeed Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, who is prevented by law from seeking a third term." Perdue in the meantime said he will appoint a "special attorney general" to challenge the law in court (Brown, 3/30).

Meanwhile, The Associated Press reports that "Republican governors in two western states want to join in legal challenges to recent federal health care legislation, but each is meeting stiff resistance from the same obstacle: an attorney general from the rival party." The states are Arizona and Nevada, home of bitter "campaign-year jockeying," the AP reports. "Elsewhere, battles have emerged among top state leaders, with distinct political overtones: In Colorado, Washington and Wisconsin, Republican attorneys general have sued or tried to sue despite opposition from Democratic governors. In Kansas and Kentucky, Republicans lawmakers have demanded that their states sue; the Republican lieutenant governor in Missouri has made a similar request" (Cooper and Chereb, 3/30).

The Seattle Times: In Washington state, a debate among law faculty on the constitutionality of the health reform law yielded consensus that the law passes muster "and that various lawsuits arguing the opposite - including the one joined last week by (Washington) state Attorney General Rob McKenna - have little merit or chance of success. Even John McKay, the former Republican U.S. attorney for Western Washington ... said that while he sympathized with some of the political issues in play, he thought the lawsuits lacked merit." The panel said that the federal government's constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce makes the case for mandating that Americans buy health insurance or face a penalty (Perry, 3/30). 

Los Angeles Times: And, a GOP candidate for governor, Meg Whitman, said that California should join the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law. "Whitman was asked by an attendee at a Redondo Beach campaign event whether as governor she would 'force your attorney general to file suit' against the reforms, as more than a dozen attorneys general in other states have said they would. 'The answer to that is yes,' said Whitman, drawing the most sustained, and loudest, applause of the hourlong event. When questioned by reporters afterward, however, she conceded that she would not have the power as governor to demand such a move from the independently elected attorney general" (Decker, 3/31). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.