In a public relations victory for opponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson granted six more states approval to join in the Florida-based lawsuit to stop the reform law.
Judge lets six states join Fla. reform lawsuit
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a written statement that although the addition of plaintiffs does not change the underlying legal arguments in the case, it sends “a strong message” that a majority of states consider the law an unconstitutional expansion of federal powers. HHS attorneys did not file a motion to oppose the request, which was approved by Vinson one day after it was filed. The six states are Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
In all, 26 states are now plaintiffs in the Florida case, which argues that the Constitution’s Commerce Clause does not give Congress the ability to penalize private citizens for not buying health insurance or to force states to expand their Medicaid programs. Proponents say those powers are needed to achieve the goal of greatly expanding healthcare access, and that the law is essentially a tax and therefore outside the purview of the courts.
Similar constitutional questions have already been decided by federal judges in Detroit and Lynchburg, Va., where the law was upheld, and in Richmond, Va., where it was struck down. All three decisions have been appealed, and most observers say the U.S. Supreme Court appears the most likely to decide the fate of the law.
Incoming Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has also vowed to file his own lawsuit against the law, breaking with the six other Republican governors or attorneys general who took power in January and opted to join the Florida case.
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