JACKSON— Gov. Haley Barbour has reaffirmed his commitment to have Mississippi join the multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the healthcare reform legislation approved by the U.S. Congress. Barbour made the announcement after Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, declined to file a lawsuit by noon, March 25, as asked by Barbour, a Republican.
And, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) has made public his “no” vote on the Senate healthcare “fix.”
“I’m trying to save the people of Mississippi from an enormous amount of taxes that would be caused by the Obama Administration’s healthcare plan,” Barbour said. “There is a pivotal constitutional argument that needs to be addressed: Does the federal government have the constitutional authority to force American citizens to buy insurance and then tell them what they can buy and at what price?
Hood notified Barbour March 25 that he needed more time to understand the complexities of a possible legal challenge. Fourteen states already have joined in a lawsuit seeking to stop the administration’s healthcare plan.
Barbour had said that if Hood refused to file the lawsuit, he would do it himself. However, in his March 25 response to Barbour, Hood said the case is under review, and the governor could not file a lawsuit as long as the review continued. Hood did not say how long that review might take.
Barbour seems undetered. He said Mississippi would join the lawsuit by the time it is amended — shortly after President Barack Obama signs it into law.
“If, by that time, you have determined you wish to represent the state, I would appreciate your office’s doing so,” Barbour wrote to the attorney general. “If you decide otherwise, I will retain outside counsel and provide your office with a copy of the contract for your ratification.”
Meanwhile in Washington, Cochran said he voted against final passage of legislation written to “fix” the healthcare reform law enacted March 23, as well as initiate a federal government takeover of the student loan program.
Cochran, vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, opposed the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act (HR.4827), which was passed by the Senate on a 56-43 vote. The bill must be approved by the House of Representatives before it can be sent to the White House.
Cochran’s opposition to HR.4827 correlates with his vote against final passage of the healthcare reform legislation that is now law.
“I believe the underlying problems in the new health care reform law will be compounded with this so-called ‘fix’ legislation,” Cochran said. “This measure will increase spending for an already expensive reform law. It raises even more taxes, imposes additional penalties on employers and makes even more cuts to Medicare. I do not consider these good remedies for what ails our healthcare system.”
Cochran also warned that the overall costs associated with the new law, as well as the legislation passed by the Senate, will aggravate budgetary and deficit control problems for the nation.