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Michigan Residents Suing Federal Government Saying Mandatory Health Insurance Purchase Unconstitutional

March 23, 2010

Michigan is joining other states fighting Obama’s health insurance purchase mandate.  The local news here in Michigan is covering the lawsuit filed by a Christian group alleging that President Obama’s plan to mandate the purchase of health insurance premiums is unconstitutional:

DETROIT — A Michigan-based Christian legal advocacy group is suing the federal government to stop the massive health care overhaul, claiming it’s unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was filed immediately after President Barack Obama signed the overhaul bill Tuesday. It names Obama and the leaders of the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Justice in their official capacities.

The Thomas More Law Center of Ann Arbor says the lawsuit was filed on behalf of itself and four people from southeast Michigan who don’t have private health insurance and object to being told to purchase coverage.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

The lawsuit comes as attorneys general from 13 states sued to stop the overhaul…

Lawsuits against the federal government were filed, in some cases, just seven minutes after Obama signed the bill into law:

The lawsuit was filed in Pensacola after the Democratic president signed the 10-year, $938 billion bill the House passed Sunday night.

“The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage,” the lawsuit says.

Legal experts say it has little chance of succeeding because, under the Constitution, federal laws trump state laws.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is taking the lead and is joined by attorneys general from South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alabama, South Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Colorado and Louisiana. All are Republicans except James “Buddy” Caldwell of Louisiana, a Democrat.

Some states are considering separate lawsuits — Virginia filed its own Tuesday — and still others may join the multistate suit. In Michigan, the Thomas More Law Center of Ann Arbor, a Christian legal advocacy group, sued on behalf of itself and four people it says don’t have private health insurance and object to being told they have to purchase it.

McCollum, who is running for governor, argues the bill will cause “substantial harm and financial burden” to the states.

The lawsuit claims the bill violates the 10th Amendment, which says the federal government has no authority beyond the powers granted to it under the Constitution, by forcing the states to carry out its provisions but not reimbursing them for the costs.

It also says the states can’t afford the new law. Using Florida as an example, the lawsuit says the overhaul will add almost 1.3 million people to the state’s Medicaid rolls and cost the state an additional $150 million in 2014, growing to $1 billion a year by 2019.

“We simply cannot afford to do the things in this bill that we’re mandated to do,” McCollum said at a press conference after filing the suit. He said the Medicaid expansion in Florida will cost $1.6 billion.

“That’s not possible or practical to do in our state,” he said. “It’s not realistic, it’s not right, and it’s very, very wrong.”

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, who is also running for governor, said the lawsuit was necessary to protect his state’s sovereignty.

“A legal challenge by the states appears to be the only hope of protecting the American people from this unprecedented attack on our system of government,” he said.

But Lawrence Friedman, a professor who teaches constitutional law at the New England School of Law in Boston, said before the suit was filed that it has little chance of success. He said he can’t imagine a scenario where a judge would stop implementation of the health care bill.

Still, McCollum said he expects the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually decide if the overhaul is constitutional.

“This is not lawful,” he said. “It may have passed Congress, but there are three branches of government.”

How do we pay for it?  Many states are wondering how they can implement laws the federal government sets when the states are in such a deficit position as it is.  The federal Supreme Court still retains a majority of conservatives, many following policies reminiscent of the Bush era (and for comments on how that affects women and children, see my other posts on strip searches in schools and being the only female Supreme Court justice).There is a lot at stake here for the Democratic party, and with the Supreme Court controlled by conservatives, I think we are in for a bumpy ride.  Obama’s relationship to the federal Supreme Court has been the top of many blog posts, particularly when Obama commented on the latest decision regarding campaign finance rules.

For those of you who want to see a side-by-side comparison of the bills, click on the Kaiser comparison here to view the PDF showing the bills’ differing policies.  For women, the concept that insurers couldn’t discriminate in costs based on gender seems a no-brainer; that concept of gender-based discrimination isn’t allowed anymore in auto insurance either (charging more to insure young men than women), so why was it accepted in health insurance?  And, as it stands now, insurers can deny pregnancy coverage and preventative health screenings.  My problem is that health insurance seems like a gimmick anyway.  For our family, even with health insurance, we suffered extreme fiscal damage from health costs, and we are leery of purchasing “insurance” when it seems like a scam.

Part of the problem I have with healthcare reform is that it doesn’t appear that the Democratic party is listening when people say they can’t purchase health insurance.  You can’t tax a stone; feudal communities tried that in the Middle Ages.  If there is no income, nothing can be paid for anything, groceries, clothes, health insurance, health care.

I predict that the American public’s response to the rising costs of health care will be the same as their response to gasoline–consumers will simply stop purchasing.  They will stop purchasing medications just like they stopped buying gasoline.  Americans will stop going to the doctors, will delay/stop having children, will go without healthcare.  After all, if there is no money, how can Americans buy health care OR health insurance?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Debi Younce permalink
    March 31, 2010 12:53 am

    I am furious to have a health bill rammed down my throat that no one has even finished reading. I am proud and want to be counted as a Michigan Resident who does not want this Health Reform Bill. Deborah Younce, Central Lake, Michigan

    • brokeharvardgrad permalink*
      March 31, 2010 6:01 pm

      Many people are angry about the bill, which seems to do nothing about reining in health care costs, but will mandate health insurance purchase. Usually I am supportive of large parts of the Democratic agenda (but then again appreciate what many Repubs have to say too); however, I wonder if this won’t be the death knell for the Democratic party in the next few years…

  2. September 27, 2010 8:42 pm

    Healthcare form was done wrong, Why? NO ONE READ THE BILL.

    Government should not be demanding only certain people pay into healthcare.




    • brokeharvardgrad permalink*
      September 29, 2010 7:22 pm

      Yes, it is a crazy system to only support insurance companies as opposed to making health care costs open and setting up payment systems for health care according to specialized criteria.


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