Alaska Goes To Court Over Health Care

By Dave Donaldson

Governor Parnell yesterday announced that Alaska is joining nineteen other states in challenging the constitutionality of the new Federal health care legislation.    He said that, specifically,  the part of the new plan that requires people to purchase health care insurance expands federal government into the lives and freedom of Alaskans.

Health insurance at the price of freedom? No.

Joined by Attorney General Dan Sullivan,  Parnell said the goal of the lawsuit originally filed by the state of Florida said the real question is to determine the limits to the power that Congress has over states.   He says the federal requirement – that individuals purchase health care insurance or pay a tax penalty reaches into people’s lives.

I think Congress has used tax penalties like that, but I think it’s obnoxious in this case when they go beyond their commerce powers and impose the tax penalty.   I mean,  that is the element of coercion that we are standing up against at this point.

Parnell says he’s not ready to discuss the merits of any health care plan,  such as that currently in effect in the state of Massachusetts that is similar to the federal plan.

The legislature’s most consistent advocate of health care has been Anchorage Democrat Hollis French,  who points to a 1993 Republican health care proposal featuring the same requirement as the current law — that individuals purchase insurance.  French sees other similarities that the governor is overlooking.

There are already good analogies out there.   Social Security is a good analogy.  Medicare.  Medicaid.  National programs that people pay into to deliver benefits.

Joining the lawsuit has gotten the attention of the state’s Congressional delegation.   Democratic Senator Mark Begich criticized the governor’s decision, saying the case will require resources that could be better directed toward improving the state’s economy and protecting public safety.    Senator Lisa Murkowski said she is encouraged the state is joining the suit.  She adds that she is looking for ways to repeal other parst of the federal law.  And Congressman Don Young also praised the governor’s decision,  saying the health care act is an infringement on the liberties of the American people.

The governor has already filed – or tried to join – at least four other lawsuits against the federal government.

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The Attorney General’s Report to the Governor can be found at the following site:

http://www.law.alaska.gov/pdf/opinions/opinions_2010/10-002_ReconciliationAct.pdf

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