Legal Challenge To Federal Health Care Law Advances

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and a bipartisan multi-state coalition from across the nation – which now includes 20 states – today took the next legal step necessary to advance their challenge to the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Act”). An amended complaint filed in federal district court reflects the addition of the following seven states to the original 13 state coalition: Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Alaska. In addition to adding new parties to the challenge, the amended complaint raises additional constitutional problems with the new health care law.

Court documents filed by the states explain that the Act infringes upon state sovereignty in violation of the Tenth Amendment and Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. As the amended legal challenge explains, the new law – which will cost Texas taxpayers an estimated $27 billion over a 10-year period – improperly forces states to spend billions of additional dollars on taxpayer-funded social programs the states cannot afford; unconstitutionally requires state agencies to carry out initiatives for the federal government; improperly commandeers state resources to implement federal regulatory prerogatives; and interferes with the states’ abilities to govern their relationships with their own state employees.“The new federal health care law violates the U.S. Constitution and unconstitutionally infringes upon Texans’ individual liberties,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Our nation’s founding fathers had the wisdom to limit the federal government’s authority by specifically enumerating the powers given to Congress – and Congress does not have the authority to force individuals to buy a service from a private insurance company as a condition of being a law-abiding American.”

Attorney General Abbott added: “In an attempt to justify its unprecedented and unconstitutional over-reach, Congress relies upon its authority to regulate Commerce. But if there are to be any limitations on the federal government, then ‘Commerce’ cannot be twisted to cover every possible human activity under the sun – including mere human existence. The act of doing absolutely nothing does not constitute an act of commerce and our Constitution does not give Congress the authority to force Americans to purchase insurance.”

Today’s legal filing augments the challenge that 13 states filed last March, which detailed how the Act infringes upon Americans’ constitutionally protected individual liberties; encroaches upon the states’ constitutionally guaranteed sovereignty; forces states to spend billions of additional dollars on entitlement programs; imposes an unconstitutional tax; and violates the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Under the Act, for the first time in the nation’s history, the federal government is attempting to force individual Americans to enter into contracts and purchase services from private companies – in this case, insurance companies – or face a penalty. The states are challenging this so-called individual mandate requirement, explaining that such an imposition on the American people exceeds Congress’ authority and violates Americans’ constitutional rights.

The 20-state coalition, which includes Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Utah, Alabama, South Dakota, Idaho, Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Alaska, filed its amended complaint in the Federal District Court in the Northern District of Florida. The original complaint, which was filed shortly after President Barack Obama signed the bill into law, names the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor as defendants because those federal agencies are charged with implementing the Act’s constitutionally impermissible provisions.

Rather than cite the Act’s significant – and harmful – financial impact on each state, the amended complaint cites data from the State of Florida as a representative of all 20 states. However, statistics provided to the Texas Attorney General’s Office by the state Health & Human Services Commission indicate that the new federal law will have an even more harmful impact on the state of Texas. During the current biennium, Texas will spend more than $22.6 billion on Medicaid to provide coverage for an estimated three million persons. Under the new law, which forces the states to dramatically expand their social welfare programs and requires taxpayers to cover an even larger portion of the population, Texas will have to spend another $5.4 billion in the next biennium covering an additional 2.1 million individuals – a dramatic spending increase at a time when the state is already facing a multi-billion budget shortfall.

In addition to forcing states to expand Medicaid coverage, the legal challenge explains that the Act also infringes upon state sovereignty by interfering with the states’ independent ability to govern their relationships with state employees. Under the new law, states are subjected to federal penalties and taxes depending upon the nature of the health insurance coverage they provide to state employees. By attempting to limit the states’ independent ability to procure the goods and services necessary to carry out state functions, the Act violates the Tenth Amendment – and the constitutional principles of federalism and dual sovereignty upon which the United States as founded.

The amended complaint filed today adds seven additional states, as well as two individuals and the National Federation of Independent Business, an organization that represents small business owners from across the country.