TALLAHASSEE — Bolstering its involvement from cheerleader to plaintiff, a national business group has joined Florida and other states in a growing lawsuit against national health-care reform.
In the meantime, the list of plaintiffs has grown from the original list of 13 states that joined forces and resources to fight the landmark national healthcare initiative embodied in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law in March.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) on Friday announced it was entering into an amended federal lawsuit filed the same day in Pensacola by Florida and 19 other states calling on the courts to shoot down the national health-care initiative.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum filed the original suit hours after President Barack Obama signed the controversial measure into law. NFIB officials said the group will hire its own team of lawyers to assist the legal team already hired by the states.
Speaking to reporters in Tampa, McCollum said the amended complaint expands on the original four-count lawsuit that was filed in federal court in Pensacola. The amended complaint makes some technical changes and increases the number of plaintiffs.
The original complaint was filed on behalf of Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Arizona, Pennsylvania South Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Louisiana and Utah. Joining the original 13 states in the lawsuit are Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Alaska.
The six-count lawsuit focuses on two main claims.
The lawsuit contends the federal law illegally requires all citizens and legal residents to have health care coverage or pay a tax penalty. Such a requirement, the lawsuit contends, constitutes an unlawful direct tax in violation of Article I, sections 2 and 9 of the Constitution because it forces a tax on individuals simply because they exist.
The lawsuit also contends federal law violates state sovereignty rights defined in the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by requiring states to spend billions of additional dollars for health coverage without providing adequate funds to do so. Specifically, the measure increases the ranks of Medicaid recipients, whose health care is paid, in part, by the state.
Florida, which now spends more than $18 billion on Medicaid servicing more than 2.7 million people, would be forced to pay even more without the ability to find another alternative, opponents of the federal health care law say.
Supporters of the complaint said they hope the issue will be dealt with by the U.S. Supreme Court by 2013, ahead of the expected effective date of most of the measure in 2014.
Critics, however, say the pre-emption clause of the U.S. Constitution clearly gives the federal government the authority to craft such a national health system and payment structure. McCollum, critics say, is using the lawsuit to garner support for another issue, his run for governor, a race that is becoming less a sure thing since the entry of Naples businessman Rick Scott into the race.
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