(Nevada News Bureau Staff) – Gov. Jim Gibbons and representatives of 19 other states on Friday filed a response challenging the federal government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the federal health care law.
The 81-page document was filed in U.S. District Court in Florida where the lawsuit challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is being heard by Judge Roger Vinson. Also in the challenge is the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) as a co-plaintiff on behalf of its members nationwide, as well as two individual citizens.
“Nevada families are already footing the bill just to set up pre-planning for the Reid/Obama Nationalized Health Care Plan,” Gibbons said. “This unconstitutional and ill-conceived nationalized health care plan is sick and will trample the constitutional rights of all Nevada families.”
Jon Summers, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, said the new health law is already starting to work for Nevadans.
“Some of the largest insurance companies in the state have already stopped the process of denying and dropping people due to preexisting conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance up to the age of 26 – before those parts for the law have even gone into effect,” he said. “Because of this law, consumers are receiving long overdue protection from big insurance companies. Gov. Gibbons may choose to stand on the side of the big corporations, but Sen. Reid will always stand on the side of working Nevadans.”
Gibbons joined the lawsuit on behalf of Nevada in May using a private attorney after Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto declined in March to file a challenge, citing cost as one factor. Masto said also there was no need for Nevada to join in a challenge since the state would be covered by any eventual ruling regarding the health care law.
The lawsuit filed March 23 alleges that the new law infringes on the constitutional rights of Nevada residents and residents of the other states by mandating all persons have qualifying health care insurance or pay a penalty. By imposing such a mandate, the law exceeds the powers of the United States under Article I of the Constitution, including the ‘Commerce Clause,’ which has never been applied to allow Congress to compel people to buy unwanted goods or services. Additionally, the penalty enforcing the mandate constitutes an unlawful direct tax in violation of Article I, sections 2 and 9 of the Constitution.
The lawsuit further claims the health care reform law infringes on the sovereignty of the states and 10th Amendment to the Constitution by imposing onerous new operating rules that Nevada must follow.
Gibbons said the burden comes at a time when Nevada faces severe budget cuts to offset shortfalls in an already-strained budget. Nevada’s Medicaid program currently consumes about 17 percent of the state’s total financial outlays.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the case in June, claiming the individual mandate fell under Congress’ ‘taxing and spending’ authority.
The motion to dismiss claims the timing of the lawsuit is too early, but the states responded today that resources are already being spent on planning and operational activities they must undertake to meet the federal requirements of the law. The states argue that they have standing to bring the lawsuit because the federal health care law negatively affects state sovereignty and provides additional stress on already lean state budgets.
Gibbons has a “Cost of Federal Health Care Reform Law” link posted at the top of the state’s website. It says that, as of July 23, “the federal health care reform law has cost the taxpayers of Nevada $195,527.72.”
The hearing on issues raised by the motion to dismiss will be held on Sept. 14 in Pensacola, Fla. Earlier this week, a judge in a similar lawsuit in Virginia ruled against the Department of Justice’s motion to dismiss, allowing Virginia’s lawsuit to move forward.