GOP Reps Ask McCollum if Health Care Bill is Legal
Two Republican members of the Florida House want Attorney General Bill McCollum to investigate the constitutionality of provisions of the health care bill currently being considered by Congress.
Reps. Scott Plakon and Steve Precourt asked McCollum, a leading candidate for the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination, to looking into the plan’s requirement that individuals buy health insurance and also to investigate the constitutionality of changes to federal-state Medicaid sharing, which is eliminated for one state in the Senate bill, but not Florida.
“Although our concerns regarding this legislation are numerous, we are asking that you look into the constitutionality of two particular areas,” the representatives wrote to McCollum. “First, in light of the various instances of ‘sweetheart deals’ that have recently taken place in the United States Senate, there may be a question of whether Floridians will receive unequal treatment as it pertains to Medicaid.
“The second area of concern is the individual mandates proposed,” the letter continued. “If a Floridian does not pay this fine, he or she may be subject to a further fine of up to $250,000 or 5 years in prison. For the first time in history, this legislation proposes to fine and/or imprison Floridians for not purchasing a product from a private seller.”
“Our view is that these actions are a brazen attack by the federal government on our civil rights, our sovereignty, our individual freedom and the United States Constitution,” they said.
Plakon, R-Longwood and Precourt, R-Orlando, called the Medicaid deal “unequal treatment” that “will put an overwhelming strain on our state budget and force our state to make no-win choices on how to fund this federal mandate while avoiding cuts to critical programs such as education and public safety.”
The duo also decried the legislative process that produced the Medicaid deal, widely believed to be a sweetener to lure the support of Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, a late holdout whose vote Democrats in the Senate needed to pass the bill.
“It is without question that these actions amount to the worst kind of backroom politics, but we are concerned that Floridians may not be getting the ‘equal protection’ that we are all guaranteed under the United States Constitution,” they wrote to McCollum.
Plakon and Precourt’s letter was released as a Washington, D.C.-based newspaper reported as many as 19 Republican Attorneys General are considering suing if the Democratic bill passed recently by both chambers of Congress becomes law. Like McCollum, several of the AGs are candidates for higher office next year.
McCollum’s office told the News Service of Florida Monday afternoon that the attorney general would likely comment on Plakon and Precourt’s request Tuesday. McCollum has come out strongly against the proposal, dubbing it this fall “PelosiCare” and seeking to use it to tie likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink to more liberal national Democrats.
“The government run public option is bad for the people of Florida, especially Florida’s nearly 4 million seniors, because it will limit choice and lead to cuts in benefits,” McCollum said in an October campaign statement. “But also because of the massive government unfunded mandate it will place on the states, which will cripple Florida’s already strained budget.”