For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: March 23, 2010

Idaho Challenges Federal Health Care Mandates

(Boise) – The State of Idaho has joined a multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the recently-approved federal health care measure, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said.

Attorney General Wasden joined with Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and the Attorneys General of 11 other states in filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Department of Labor. The complaint alleges that the Health Care Reform bill signed into law by President Obama this morning is unconstitutional.

“Our complaint alleges the new law infringes upon the constitutional rights of Idahoans and residents of the other states by mandating all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage or pay a tax penalty,” Attorney General Wasden said. “The law exceeds the powers of the United States under Article I of the Constitution and violates the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. Additionally, the tax penalty required under the law constitutes an unlawful direct tax in violation of Article I, sections 2 and 9 of the Constitution.

“Idaho’s congressional delegation, the Idaho Legislature, Attorney General Wasden, the people of our state and I stand together in opposing this blatant violation of states’ rights and individual liberty,” Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said. “Legal scholars keep saying this lawsuit is futile ‘if the law is constitutional.’ Well, we contend the federal government has overstepped its authority with this law, and that it’s our duty to challenge it.”

The lawsuit further claims the health care reform law infringes on the sovereignty of the states by imposing onerous new operating rules that Idaho must follow as well as requiring the states to spend billions of additional dollars without providing funds or resources to the states to help subsidize the cost of implementation of the law. This burden comes at a time when Idaho faces severe budget cuts to offset shortfalls in an already-strained budget.

Under the new law, Idaho will be required to vastly broaden its Medicaid eligibility standards to accommodate upwards of 50 percent more enrollees, many of whom would be required to enroll or face a tax penalty.

The bipartisan lawsuit, joined by the Attorneys General of South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington and South Dakota, was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

A copy of the lawsuit is available here.

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