Today, Governor Sean Parnell and Attorney General Dan Sullivan are announcing their plans to sue the federal government over healthcare reform.
Alaska’s capital budget is over $3 billion. The operating budget is over $8 billion. The combined budgets are an astounding $11 billion. Despite that, we apparently have money to WASTE on Governor Parnell’s election year stunt!
I wonder if they checked with former convicted felon and Senator Ted Stevens. Stevens co-sponsored republican legislation in 1993 that MANDATED HEALTH INSURANCE.
In November, 1993, Sen. John Chafee, R-R.I., introduced what was considered to be one of the main Republican health overhaul proposals: “A bill to provide comprehensive reform of the health care system of the United States.”
Titled the “Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993,” it had 21 co-sponsors, including Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. The bill, which was not debated or voted upon, was an alternative to President Bill Clinton’s plan. It bears similarity to the Democratic bill passed by the Senate Dec. 24, 2009, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Here is a summary of the 1993 bill:
Title I: Basic Reforms to Expand Access to Health Insurance Coverage and to Ensure Universal Coverage – Subtitle A: Universal Access – Provides access to health insurance coverage under a qualified health plan for every citizen and lawful permanent resident of the United States.
(Sec. 1003) Establishes a program under which persons with low incomes (and who are not eligible for Medicaid) will receive vouchers to buy insurance through purchasing groups.
(Sec. 1004) Requires each employer to make available, either directly, through a purchasing group, or otherwise, enrollment in a qualified health plan to each eligible employee.
Subtitle B: Qualified General Access Plan in the Small Employer and Individual Marketplace- Requires the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to develop specific standards to implement requirements concerning: (1) guaranteed eligibility, availability, and renewability of health insurance coverage; (2) nondiscrimination based on health status; (3) benefits offered; (4) insurer financial solvency; (5) enrollment process; (6) premium rating limitations; (7) risk adjustment; and (8) consumer protection.
(Sec. 1119) Requires each qualified general access plan to: (1) establish and maintain a quality assurance program and a mediation procedures program; and (2) contain assurances of service to designated underserved areas.
(Sec. 1141) Provides for the formation of purchasing groups by individuals and small employers.
(Sec. 1161) Requires brokers or insurers to provide specified information to prospective enrollees.
(Sec. 1162) Prohibits insurers from creating improper financial incentives and from selling duplicate coverage.
Recently, Senator Wyden of Oregon stated that lawsuits by the states over the issue of individual mandates are moot for one simple reason:
There was an amendment to the bill called the “empowering the states to be innovative” amendment that gives states the right, literally, to set up their own health care system-with or without an individual mandate.
Questions must be asked:
Mr. Sullivan, doesn’t that make your lawsuit moot and a waste of taxpayer dollars?
Mr. Parnell—were you even aware of the “empowering the states to be innovative” section in the health care bill before you authorized this suit?
How else to explain this pointless lawsuit? Many other states are NOT suing the FEDS because it is a waste of valuable time and resources. Kansas decided NOT to sue a couple of weeks ago. Here is a great piece from Think Progress:
Kansas Attorney General Refuses To Sue Federal Government Over Health Care Reform
Yesterday, Kansas Attorney General Steve Six announced that his office would not be joining other states’ attorneys general in suing the federal government on the allegation that the new health care law is unconstitutional. From his statement:
The attorney general’s office has completed its legal review of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Based on that extensive analysis, I do not believe that Kansas can successfully challenge the law. Our review did not reveal any constitutional defects, and thus it would not be legally or fiscally responsible to pursue this litigation. […]
Legal precedent demonstrates that throughout our nation’s history, the U.S. Supreme Court has been reluctant to overturn legislative acts unless a clear and direct constitutional violation is shown. Article I, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution expressly gives Congress the power to legislate on matters affecting interstate commerce. The Supremacy Clause makes these laws supreme, regardless of any state laws or state constitutional provisions to the contrary. No serious argument may be advanced that the healthcare industry and all those who participate in it — including doctors, nurses, patients and insurers — are not part of interstate commerce. […]
I do not believe it is in the best interest of Kansas to divert resources from these vital legal matters to pursue a lawsuit driven by political differences and policy debates, a lawsuit that I believe has little to no chance of success and will squander scarce resources in a time of severe budget shortfalls.
Six has been under tremendous pressure by conservatives in his state to join in the right-wing lawsuit over health care reform. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), who sent a letter to Six urging him to sue last week, called yesterday’s announcement “extremely disappointing.” More on the opposition that Six faces within his state:
[Republican state Rep. Aaron] Jack and 21 other Republicans in the Kansas House are sponsoring the resolution requiring Six to file a legal challenge. A 1975 state law allows one chamber to direct the attorney general to challenge the constitutionality of a state or federal statute. […]
Some GOP legislators want to amend the state constitution to prohibit Kansas from requiring individuals or businesses to buy health insurance. It’s designed to block implementation of the federal law in Kansas and put the state in a better legal position for a challenge.
Six, however, joins an increasingly vocal block of state-level public officials who are calling out the political stunts conducted by the attorneys general suing the federal government. Attorneys general from Kentucky, Georgia, Nevada, Ohio, Iowa, and Arizona have all refused to join the suit, saying it would be a frivolous waste of scarce taxpayer dollars. Additionally, in Oregon, both Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) and Attorney General John Kroger (D) have have promised to “take legal action to defend the constitutionality” of the law.