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Governor, A.G. comment on health-care ruling

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on Jan. 31, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
January 31, 2011 2:16 pm

State leaders react to today’s court ruling, in which a Florida judge struck down President Obama’s health care overhaul.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna, who was among the Republican state a.g.s to file the lawsuit, applauded the decision in a statement:

“While we all recognize the vital need to access health care services in our country, forcing all U.S. citizens to buy a commercial product in the private market with their own money is an unprecedented and unconstitutional move by the federal government. Americans value their constitutional rights. They want a health care law that respects those rights and actually reduces the financial burdens on their families. That is why more than half of the states in America are challenging this new law.”

Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire had this to say:

“There’s no question I’m disappointed in today’s ruling. Not only did Judge Vinson rule against the individual mandate, he declared the entire law unconstitutional. This ruling, as I have stated all along, is not good for Washingtonians.
 
“This means that nearly 900,000 seniors in Washington who have Medicare coverage will be forced to pay more for regular check-ups and important preventive services, like mammograms and colonoscopies. It means the more than 45,000 Washington Medicare beneficiaries who received a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate to help pay for prescription drugs may be forced to give that benefit back. In addition, they’d lose out on the 50 percent discounts on certain prescription drugs. 

Read on for the full press releases.

Rob McKenna
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF WASHINGTON
1125 Washington Street SE · PO Box 40100 · Olympia WA 98504-0100

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2011

Judge sides with states in federal health care challenge
Individual mandate unconstitutional

OLYMPIA—A Florida judge today ruled that Congress exceeded its Constitutional authority in approving a new health care mandate requiring all US citizens to have or purchase health insurance or face a fine.

“The existing problems in our national health care system are recognized by everyone in this case,” said US District Court Judge Roger Vinson of the Northern District of Florida in his 78-page ruling. “There is widespread sentiment for positive improvements that will reduce costs, improve the quality of care, and expand availability in a way that the nation can afford.

“Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution,” he said. “My conclusion in this case is based on an application of the Commerce Clause as it exists pursuant to the Supreme Court’s current interpretation and definition. Only the Supreme Court (or a Constitutional amendment) can expand that.”

Attorney General Rob McKenna, who joined the 26-state suit on behalf of the state of Washington, called the ruling a victory for individual and state rights.

“While we all recognize the vital need to access health care services in our country, forcing all U.S. citizens to buy a commercial product in the private market with their own money is an unprecedented and unconstitutional move by the federal government,” said Attorney General Rob McKenna. “Americans value their constitutional rights. They want a health care law that respects those rights and actually reduces the financial burdens on their families. That is why more than half of the states in America are challenging this new law.”

Gov. Gregoire’s statement on Florida judge’s ruling
 
OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today issued the following statement in response to U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling that the health care reform bill signed into law by President Barack Obama last March is unconstitutional:
 
“There’s no question I’m disappointed in today’s ruling. Not only did Judge Vinson rule against the individual mandate, he declared the entire law unconstitutional. This ruling, as I have stated all along, is not good for Washingtonians.
 
“This means that nearly 900,000 seniors in Washington who have Medicare coverage will be forced to pay more for regular check-ups and important preventive services, like mammograms and colonoscopies. It means the more than 45,000 Washington Medicare beneficiaries who received a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate to help pay for prescription drugs may be forced to give that benefit back. In addition, they’d lose out on the 50 percent discounts on certain prescription drugs. 
 
“Nationally, it means up to 4 million small businesses lose out on $40 billion worth of tax credits to defray employee health-care costs. It puts at risk those with preexisting conditions who can now be denied health coverage by insurance companies. It means young adults and families will no longer have the peace of mind knowing that children up to the age of 26 could be covered under their parents health insurance plan. And it means people with insurance will continue to pay more than their fair share to cover the costs of the uninsured. 
 
“The fact is – the Affordable Care Act is good for Washingtonians, and it’s good for business. Individuals who can afford to get a benefit, but are unwilling to pay their fair share of the cost of that benefit, are getting ‘something for nothing’ and the rest of society is subsidizing them.
 
“Washington state is proof of that. As a major purchaser of both health care services and health insurance, our state budget has been severely impacted by the spiraling costs of services and insurance and declining access to affordable care. In recent years, health-related costs have accounted for up to one third of the state’s general spending.
 
“I continue to champion health reform in Washington state to ensure that Washingtonians have access to high-quality, affordable health services. The Affordable Care Act ensures that the federal government is an active partner for states like Washington. Today’s decision is just one of many pending lawsuits that that are being decided. I am confident at the end of the day, the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act will be upheld.”

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