government

Health reform lawsuit gains additional state support

Some states with Republican governors are participating over objections from their Democratic attorneys general. Arizona's governor secured legislation allowing the state to join.

By Amy Lynn Sorrel — Posted May 13, 2010

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At least 20 largely Republican states are now part of a multistate lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of key provisions in the federal health system reform law. But some state attorneys general are at odds with their governors or lawmakers from rival parties who have joined or are looking to join the legal challenge.

Republican governors in Georgia and Alaska announced in April that their states will join the case, originally filed by Florida and joined by 13 other states immediately after President Obama signed the reform law on March 23. The suit contends that the reform package violates states' sovereignty by requiring citizens to purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty, and by placing additional financial and administrative burdens on states and their Medicaid programs.

Georgia's participation came over objections from state Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker, a Democrat, who said in March that the litigation lacked a "viable legal claim."

Similarly, Arizona's Democratic attorney general refused requests by the state's GOP governor to sue. The Republican leader secured legislation allowing the state to join the case anyway.

Conservative lawmakers in Oklahoma are considering a similar move after Attorney General Drew Edmondson, a Democrat, said in April that he would join the litigation only if required to by legislative action.

Missouri Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder announced last month that he would seek private funding to participate in the reform law challenge. Missouri's governor and attorney general are Democrats.

Virginia is pursuing a separate case it also filed the day of the law's enactment. Other state leaders have told the White House they will band together to defend the law from invalidation or repeal.

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