On Sunday, Maine’s Gov.-elect Paul LePage — a Tea Party activist who ran on repealing the Affordable Care Act and infamously told President Obama to “go to hell” — announced that Maine should join the multi-state lawsuit challenging the law because if 35 states joined the suit, it “dies, automatically.” “I am going to be sitting with our attorney general and ask him to join the (health care reform) lawsuit against the federal government,” he said, adding that he had just learned about the 35-state rule.
Haven’t heard about the 35-state escape hatch? Well, that’s because it doesn’t exist. LePage confused actual law with a proposal introduced earlier this year in the House by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) — chairman of the so-called 10th Amendment Task Force. LePage’s spokesperson explained that the governor-elect was suggesting that if enough states joined the effort, the law would die politically. “His intent was to discuss the concept of broad-based political opposition, rather than a nonexistent statutory or constitutional trigger,” the aide helpfully clarified.
Meanwhile, Maine’s new attorney general — William Schneider — is eager to join the lawsuit — with or without the 35 state rule:
William Schneider, the Durham Republican elected as attorney general by the Legislature on Wednesday, said in an interview that the Affordable Care Act, signed by President Barack Obama in March, violates the U.S. Constitution by requiring people to buy insurance or face an annual fine of $695.
There are no provisions in the constitution that give the federal government that kind of power, he said. Designed to help millions of uninsured Americans obtain affordable health care through government-imposed mandates and subsidies, the law is a “noble effort doomed by its failures,” said Schneider, who currently is an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
The new Maine duo — which possibly rivals Virginia’s conservative tag-team of Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — is already talking about eliminating Dirigo, the state’s expanded health care program. Once seen as a model for the public option, the initiative will likely be defunded by the Republican-controlled legislature. Currently, 134,700 (or 10%) Maine residents are uninsured.
Meanwhile, the AP reported yesterday that Wisconsin — which elected a Republican governor in the midterms — is also considering joining the multi-state lawsuit, bringing the number of participating states to 22.