How States Are Responding to Healthcare Reform Law

March 23, 2010

Many U.S. states are worried that the healthcare overhaul plan approved by the U.S. House of Representatives will usurp their sovereignty and impose more spending on their already stretched budgets.

Republican attorneys general in at least 12 states announced on Monday that lawsuits will be filed to stop the federal government from overstepping its constitutional powers.

The federal plan provides funding to help states through the overhaul of the healthcare industry, which would include requiring Americans to have health insurance and push more people into the Medicaid system for the poor that states and the U.S. government administer.

In addition to lawsuits, many states are trying to pass their own laws and constitutional amendments to keep health insurance optional. Below are some of the steps they are taking:

  • Attorneys general in Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington plan to band together in a collective lawsuit.
  • Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli also announced plans to file a lawsuit in federal court.
  • At least 36 state legislatures are weighing legislation to limit, alter or oppose the federal healthcare reform, and 27 of those are considering amending their state constitutions by ballot. Arizonans will vote on an amendment in November.
  • Tea Party groups and others in Ohio and Michigan hope to collect enough signatures to place constitutional amendments to fend off federal healthcare changes on their state’s November ballot.
  • Virginia was the first state to react legislatively, by enacting a statute entitled “health insurance coverage not required.”
  • Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed a bill on Wednesday allowing the state’s attorney general to file a lawsuit opposing federal healthcare legislation requiring individuals to buy medical insurance.
  • Utah’s governor has signed into law a bill requiring a state analysis of federal healthcare reform prior to implementation.
  • Texas Governor Rick Perry says the plan will cost the Lone Star state $24.3 billion over 10 years,
  • Florida, Georgia and Missouri have begun embarking on constitutional resolutions.
  • Massachusetts and Vermont are both in the unique positions of having their own healthcare plans already in place.
  • The New Hampshire legislature has passed a bill prohibiting any expansion of Medicaid, the healthcare system for the poor, unless it is paid for by the federal government. The current version of the U.S. plan requires the federal government to cover 100 percent of all new Medicaid enrollees through 2016.

States not considering legislative responses include Illinois, North Carolina, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts. Also, there are no measures in Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Texas as there are no regular legislative sessions in these states in 2010.

SOURCES: National Conference of State Legislatures, governors’ and attorneys generals’ offices, media notices.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert, Jim Christie in San Francisco, Joan Gralla in New York, Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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