A handful of conservative leaders are jumping on Judge Roger Vinson’s decision to invalidate the entirety of the Affordable Care Act to stop implementing the measure in their states, despite the fact that Vinson found that just two of the 26 states had standing to sue the government. Below is a sampling of some of the most recent state activity along with the amount of money each state has received to crackdown on unreasonable premium increases, plan for health insurance exchanges, help businesses cover early retirees and help seniors afford prescription drugs. If the states are serious about rejecting the law, they’ll have to give back this money:
- FLORIDA (WOULD GIVE BACK $71.4 MILLION): Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said Tuesday he “will forfeit a $1 million federal grant that was supposed to go toward beefing up oversight of health-insurance rates” and is treating the law as if it didn’t exist. “As of right now, it doesn’t exist,” Deputy Insurance Commissioner Mary Beth Senkewicz said during a conference call of the McCarty-chaired Health Insurance Advisory Board.” McCarty also said he told Jay Angoff, director of the HHS Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, that Florida would not be spending any of the funds it had been allocated to implement the insurance exchange program.
- UTAH (WOULD GIVE BACK $22.8 MILLION): Utah Deputy Attorney General John Swallow believes that the state is “no longer bound by the act.” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is still weighing his options.
- WISCONSIN (WOULD GIVE BACK $37.8 MILLION): Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen already has declared the law null and void. “For Wisconsin, the federal health care law is dead — unless and until it is revived by an appellate court,” Van Hollen said in a statement this week. “Effectively, Wisconsin was relieved of any obligations or duties that were created under terms of the federal health care law.” Last night, he seemed to walk back his statement telling Politico’s Pulse, that he “never claimed that … states can or should ignore the fact they will have to consider the practical implications.”
- WYOMING (WOULD GIVE BACK $13.9 MILLION): Both houses of the Wyoming Legislature “passed bills Tuesday intended to block implementation” of reform. The Wyoming House approved a bill declaring that the law violates the U.S. Constitution and is invalid. The Senate approved a “proposed state constitutional amendment that would specify that citizens reserve the right to make their own health care decisions.”
- WASHINGTON (WOULD GIVE BACK $82.9 MILLION):Republicans have introduced a measure that would prohibit the state from spending money to implement reform. “With the court’s recent ruling, and with our state facing a $4.6 billion shortfall, it would be irresponsible for us to spend any more state dollars on implementing a federal law that may never go into effect,” Rep. Joe Schmick (R) said. However, since “Democrats control both the House and Senate in Olympia, so it’s not likely that Schmick’s measure will pass.”
- NEW HAMPSHIRE (WOULD GIVE BACK $8.9 MILLION): House Republican leaders have called on the all-Republican Executive Council to “reject a proposed contract that would lead to a state health insurance exchange for people and businesses that have trouble finding or affording health coverage.” Speaker of the House William O’Brien and Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt “urged the council to vote against the contract, proposed by the Department of Insurance. They cited a decision Monday by a federal judge in Florida, which held the Affordable Care Act contains an unconstitutional requirement that requires individuals to buy health insurance if they are not covered by a government or employer plan.”
Since it’s in everyone’s best interest to settle the constitutionality of the law, it may also make some sense to adopt Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D-FL) proposal and expedite the review process. The Supreme Court may be more likely to uphold the law if there are less negative rulings and the states can then go on with the job of actually implementing the measure.