KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Democratic, Republican Attorneys General Continue Health Reform Lawsuit Battle

Politico: Some of the Democratic attorneys general who have refused to join Republican counterparts in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health law, now "have become reluctant combatants, dragged into the fray by GOP governors and legislators who insist that their reluctance to join the case is a clear attempt to protect their national party's interests."

Those facing the most pressure to join the lawsuits come from Republican-leaning states with Republican governors or legislatures. "Complicating the situation, several of those Democratic AG's are themselves running for higher office. In Kentucky, Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway - who is running for an open Senate seat - has said the establishment of programs like Social Security and Medicare prove that Congress has authority to implement a sweeping health care overhaul without violating state rights but his Republican opponents frame his resistance as evidence of his fealty to a liberal national party" (Catanese, 4/1).

Meanwhile, The Seattle Times reports that Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna has stepped into his state's spotlight as he joins the lawsuit. "McKenna, who has built a reputation as a moderate Republican, says his decision to join the lawsuit was not influenced by politics and is purely about protecting the Constitution. But there are clear political consequences for a man widely expected to be the GOP nominee for governor in 2012. … The health-care lawsuit brought a swift response from Democrats. An infuriated Gov. Chris Gregoire said she'll file a legal brief to make it clear McKenna doesn't speak for the whole state, and key legislators said they may try to block him from spending state money on the case" (Garber, 3/31).

Richmond Times-Dispatch: In Virginia, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's office has turned down requests to see records documenting the resources he has devoted to the effort. "Yesterday, Cuccinelli issued a release saying that the work of the suit was being done in-house and said costs would be minimal beyond the $350 fee to file the suit in U.S. District Court. [Democratic] Party officials have been critical of Cuccinelli's filing of the suit, which claims that the new health-care law is unconstitutional because it requires nearly every American to obtain health insurance or face a fine" (Nolan, 3/31).

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