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Politics

State Leaders Mobilize to Fight Forced Health Care

March 21, 2010 - 7:00pm


Within hours of the U.S. House passing health care reform legislation Sunday night, Republicans in Florida began mobilizing to push back against the new federal mandate.

Republicans, with Attorney General Bill McCollum leading the charge, are preparing to specifically challenge the federal mandate that every citizen have health insurance coverage.

Last week, McCollum unveiled plans to sue the federal government as soon as the health care legislation passed. He asked other states to join him.

"Presumably one of the provisions penalizing individuals who do not buy health insurance will be in any final legislation which becomes law, and if so, I intend to pursue litigation to challenge it.

McCollum held a news conference Monday morning, announcing he is prepared to file once President Barack Obama signs the legislation, which he is expcted to do Tuesday.

"The health care reform legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last night clearly violates the U.S. Constitution and infringes on each state's sovereignty," McCollum said.

Nine other state attorneys general have already joined the pledge to sue and other states are said to be consdering it. States already committed include, South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Pennsylvania, Washington, North Dakota, South Dakota and Alabama.

While McCollum is organizing a national push back against the new health care law, Republicans in the Legislature are mobilizing at the state level.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustace, that would place the issue on the November ballot and allow voters to decide if they want the constitutional right to opt out. The amendment would pass if 60 percent of voters supported it.

Baker said his measure meets a constitutional test under the 10th Amendment, because it "is solely about individual rights.

Democrats, led by Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, disagree. Gelber says the federal supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution trumps state law.

The House takes up the issue Monday afternoon in a version of the Baker bill sponsored by Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood. Plakon's bill is scheduled for action in both the Health and Family Services Council and the Health Care Regulations Policy Committee.

Baker said, Im very optimistic this is going to pass, noting that he has received support from citizens all across the state. The House legislation, he points out, attracted scores of co-sponsors. The support for this is simply incredible.

Florida politicians across the state were vocal in their disappointment Monday.

Gov. Charlie Crist lambasted the bill for being comprised of secret back room, sweetheart deals" butressed by "a last minute [presidential] executive order," and concluded by calling the legislation "a direct affront to the American people.

Crist said, Americans deserve better than this liberal, partisan legislation that amounts to a government take over of health care while raising rates, raising taxes and significantly cutting Medicare."

Supporting the efforts in Tallahassee to launch an all out assault on the bill, former House Speaker Marco Rubio, now locked in a fierce U.S. Senate primary fight with Crist, said Fortunately, this debate does not end today. And we cannot allow it to if our nation is to survive the failed politics and policies that have plagued Washington for far too long.

The frontrunner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, CFO Alex Sink was more supportive of the legislation. Though it is certainly not perfect, these long-overdue reforms are better than Washington continuing to do nothing to improve America's health care system."

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, the frontrunner in the Democratic race for the U.S. Senate seat, was enthusiastic about the passage, calling it a historic moment."

"We've waited for too long and have started over too often," Meek said, "Now is a moment for action to stand on the right side of history."

Kevin Derby, a reporter for Sunshine State News, can be reached at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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