McCollum to Investigate Federal Health Plan
Expecting some form of national health care package to surface from Washington, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum on Tuesday said he's ordering his staff to conduct a legal review.
Responding to request from two Republican state House members to investigate whether anticipated provisions would violate Florida's Constitution, McCollum said he's concerned that any provision requiring citizens to carry health insurance would violate the state constitution's privacy clause, a provision not included in the U.S. Constitution.
"Such a 'living tax' is worrisome because it would be levied on a person who does nothing, a person who simply wishes not to be forced to buy health insurance coverage," McCollum said in a statement. "Upon initial review, this appears to be contrary to the freedoms we, as Americans, have enjoyed for the past 233 years."
McCollum plans to meet with other attorneys general to discuss the proposal, including a Senate provision that calls for federal taxpayers to foot the entire bill for Nebraska's Medicaid system, considered by most to be a sweetener for U.S. Senator Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, to gain his support for the Senate health insurance package.
State Reps. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood and Steve Precourt, R-Orlando asked McCollum to review the plan, calling the health care bill “a brazen attack by the federal government on our civil rights, our sovereignty, our individual freedom and the United States Constitution,” in a Dec. 28 letter to the attorney general. A Washington, D.C.-based newspaper reported this week that 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 governor of their states next year.
Politics was on the mind of state Democrats too, who accused McCollum of trying to score campaign points with an issue pivotal to Florida. A Democratic candidate to replace McCollum next year said that the attorney general should be looking to expand health care in Florida, not review it.
"There are four million Floridians without health care including 800,000 children. Only one state has a higher percentage of uninsured," said state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, in a statement. "I wish McCollum was as concerned about solving Florida's health care crisis as he was about stopping the solving of the health care crisis."
Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff said McCollum’s comments were hypocritical, arguing he had voted as a member of Congress from 1981 - 2000 “to destabilize and dismantle Social Security and Medicare.”
"McCollum's argument is not just silly, it's insulting to the people of Florida given his record of trying to dismantle Social Security and Medicare every chance he could get," Jotkoff said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "Under McCollum's flawed logic, Americans are ‘forced’ to have Social Security and Medicare taxes deducted from their paychecks. Is McCollum declaring Social Security and Medicare 'unconstitutional?' Is that why he devoted so much of his Congressional career to undercutting them?"