JACKSON — Attorneys general from 13 states sued the federal government Tuesday, claiming the landmark healthcare overhaul is unconstitutional just seven minutes after President Barack Obama signed it into law.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, was not one of them.
“The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit also says the states can’t afford the new law. Using Florida as an example, the lawsuit says the overhaul will add almost 1.3 million people to the state’s Medicaid rolls and cost the state an additional $150 million in 2014, growing to $1 billion a year by 2019.
Legal experts say it has little chance of succeeding because, under the Constitution, federal laws trump state laws.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is taking the lead and is joined by attorneys general from South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alabama, South Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Colorado and Louisiana. All are Republicans except James “Buddy” Caldwell of Louisiana, a Democrat.
Gov. Haley Barbour has petitioned Hood to file a lawsuit, and has given him a deadline of Noon, March 25. If Hood has not filed by then, the Republican governor said he will do it himself.
Some states are looking at other ways to avoid participating. Virginia and Idaho have passed legislation aimed at blocking requirements in the bill, and the Republican-led Legislature in Florida is trying to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ask voters to exempt the state from the federal law’s requirements. At least 60 percent of voters would have to approve.
No Republicans in the U.S. House or Senate voted for the bill.