Stateline Story

Republican AGs Expand Health Care Attacks

A growing number of Republican state attorneys general are threatening to block health reform backed by congressional Democrats, with Florida's Bill McCollum becoming the latest.

Initial attacks focused on a sweetheart deal for the Nebraska Medicaid program, but attention now is shifting to one of the central tenets of the health care legislation: a requirement that nearly every American would have to buy or otherwise obtain health insurance.

McCollum, the GOP's leading candidate in the 2010 Florida governor's race, said he's concerned the proposal would impose a "living tax," according to theMiami Herald, because there would be no way for Americans to avoid the expense.

The New York Times notes that conservative and liberal scholars are already debating whether the insurance mandate would be legal, even though the congressional plan has not yet been finalized.

The conservative Heritage Foundation, for example, released an analysis earlier this month claiming the government has never required people to buy any goods or services as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.

But Erwin Chemerinsky, law school dean at the University of California Irvine, defended the idea in an October letter to the Los Angeles Times.

"The reality is that virtually everyone will, at some point, need medical care. And, if a person has certain kinds of communicable diseases, the government will insist that he or she be treated whether they are insured or not. A tax on the uninsured is a way of paying for the costs of their likely future medical care," he wrote.