States fight Obama’s effort to kill legal challenge to unwanted health care law!

on . Posted in Patriot News Network

PHOENIX, Arizona - August 6, 2010 - Arizona and other states are striking back at efforts by the illegitimate Obama regime to kill their legal challenge to the new federal health care plan.

Legal papers filed Friday by lawyers representing the 20 states challenging the regime say both they and their taxpayers will face immediate harm if a federal judge in Florida does not block the law from being implemented.

At the very least, they say the first provisions of the law approved by Congress earlier this year will force states to spend more on health insurance for employees. That includes a requirement to cover children of workers until they are 26 and a ban on any lifetime limit on benefits.

Arizona officials already have warned employees that their own health care premiums will rise on January 1, 2011.

But the issues go beyond tax dollars.

The states, along with the National Federation of Independent Business, are challenging a provision in the federal law that requires individuals to obtain health insurance or face a fine. Governor Jan Brewer, who was given permission by the Arizona Legislature earlier this year to join in the multi-state challenge, said it's a constitutional issue.

"The federal government has overreached (its legitimate powers) into the states and (has) not abided to the sovereignty of the states," said Brewer at a press conference Friday.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, the lead attorney on the case, who crafted Friday's legal response to the Department of Justice effort to quash the lawsuit, put a finer point on it.

"By enacting the individual mandate, Congress usurps plaintiff states' sovereign powers to enact statutes or state constitutional provisions to protect their state citizens from compulsion in their health care choices," wrote McCollum.

That issue of constitutionally protecting citizens is more than academic.

Arizonans will vote on Proposition 106 in November, which would add a section to the state constitution barring any law that compels individuals to participate in any specific health care program.

Just this week, Missouri voters approved legislation with the same goal; and lawmakers in Georgia, Idaho, Utah and Louisiana have already enacted similar provisions.

Brian Kennedy, the senior trial counsel for the Department of Justice, wants U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson to toss the claim, saying the challengers lack the required legal standing. "A state may not sue to immunize its citizens from a federal statute," he wrote.

Arizona and the other states do have a more immediate reason for challenging the law, one that clearly does involve state government.

Beginning in 2014, the federal law mandates that states that receive federal Medicaid dollars expand eligibility standards.

The law does come with additional dollars. But to qualify, states cannot scale back their current spending on Medicaid programs, even if they cannot afford them. Brewer said Friday that is a particular problem for Arizona because it currently provides benefits more generous than required under federal law.

For example, Arizona provides free care for anyone below the federal poverty level, $18,310 a year for a family of three; and children of families making up to twice that much can get nearly free care.

The Republican-controlled Legislature actually had voted to scale back the first program and eliminate the second before being forced to restore the funding in the wake of the president signing the law.

"We are one of the leading states in providing those kind of services," said the governor. "If the Obama health care plan does in fact arrive in Arizona, it will cost the taxpayers of Arizona another $11 billion over the next decade. I don't believe we can afford that. We certainly at this present time are not even able to sustain what services we do provide."

But Kennedy, in asking the challenge to be tossed, said the states have no legal standing to challenge this part of the law either.

He noted that nothing requires states to participate in the federal Medicaid program. It picks up two-thirds of the cost of state-run health programs, like the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, if states comply with certain rules.

What that means, Kennedy argued, is states are free to ignore the coverage requirements in the new federal health care law.

That also was the argument of state Attorney General Terry Goddard who declined to join the challenge.

But Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said the reality is that the state is hooked.
"It's like a heroin pusher," Kavanagh said during the legislative debate authorizing Brewer to join the federal lawsuit. He said there is no realistic way for the state to provide health care for the poor if it loses federal dollars.

It was Goddard's refusal that led the Republican-controlled Legislature to authorize Brewer to intercede in the federal lawsuit.

Goddard, in deciding not to sue, also said he doesn't believe the requirement to buy health insurance is beyond congressional authority. Goddard, the Democrat nominee for governor, said Arizonans can choose not to buy coverage, "but you will pay a penalty for that," comparing it to Social Security, the federally mandated retirement system first enacted in the 1930s.

The partisan issue has gone beyond the governor's race. In voting in March to give Brewer the right to sue, Senator Jack Harper, R-Surprise, labeled the federal plan "socialism."

But Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said the federal law, aside from being good policy, will save Arizona taxpayers money, albeit only in the long run. She said the state actually would get an extra $2.3 billion in federal dollars if it keeps Medicaid spending and eligibility at the same rate.

Vinson is scheduled to hear arguments in his court on September 14.

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