State Leaders Petition Florida Court To Allow Amicus Brief Defending Constitutionality Of Health Law

Govs. Chris Gregoire (D-WA), Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), Ed Rendell (D-PA) and Bill Ritter (D-CO) have filed a joint motion asking the District Court of Northern Florida to reverse its decision disallowing interested parties to file amicus briefs and permit a “friend of the court” brief in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new law. The governors will argue that the court “should reject the attorney generals’ request that implementation of the health care reform law be prevented from moving forward” and will “provide specific examples showing why the health-care law is constitutional as a matter of interstate commerce.”

The request also highlights the tension between attorneys general and their governors, who often find themselves on different sides of the case. Washington AG Rob McKenna joined the lawsuit over the objections of the governor and in the press release announcing the ‘friend of the court’ request, Gregoire distances herself from his actions. “I’ve said from the beginning – the action of the Attorney General in filing this lawsuit does not represent the Governor, the Insurance Commissioner, legislative leadership, or thousands of Washingtonians in our state that would benefit from national health care reform,” Gregoire said. “We need to move forward. This legislation not only provides necessary care to millions of Americans who desperately need it – it protects our tax payers from the skyrocketing costs of health care.” The release offers some more details:

The governors worked to ensure the federal health reform law met the needs of the states, and will point to numerous benefits to the states from the federal-state partnership including:

Health insurance coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, which experience shows can only be sustained if individuals are discouraged from waiting until they become sick or injured to obtain health insurance.

Federal funding for programs that are now wholly state-funded or have waiting lists because of lack of funds, such as Washington’s Basic Health Plan that provides subsidized health insurance for low-income individuals.

Significant reductions in the “hidden tax” on the medical and insurance costs of those who pay their bills when the uninsured do not pay for health care they receive

Measures to control the skyrocketing costs of health insurance, which will help the economies of their states.

At least three attorneys generals are also petitioning the Florida court in the matter. AGs from Oregon, Iowa and Vermont hope to file a brief and make the case that the PPACA “is both constitutional and important to the health and welfare of their citizens.” “The brief argues that states are familiar with the ‘longstanding relationship between the federal government and the states in the healthcare arena and are similarly familiar with the strengths and limitations of a state-by-state approach to healthcare reform.'” “[W]ithout a national solution to the healthcare crisis,” the brief claims, “the Amici States would be forced to spend more and more on health care and yet slide farther and farther away from their obligation to protect the health and well being of their citizens.”

The US Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the case earlier this month and it’s scheduled for oral argument on Sept. 14, 2010.