Idaho governor blocks implementation of federal health care law

[JURIST] Idaho Governor CL "Butch" Otter (R) [official website] issued an executive order on Wednesday prohibiting implementation of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [HR 3590 materials] in the state. Executive Order 2011-03 [text] bars "every executive branch department, agency and institution of the State" from establishing any program or rule that would implement provisions of the law, from accepting any federal funding tied to the law, and from assisting federal employees with its implementation. Otter cited the authority of the Tenth Amendment [text] in support of the argument that the federal government has overstepped its bounds in regulating health care:

PPACA represents a dramatic attempt to assert federal command and control over this country's health care system ... the power to require or regulate a person's choice in the mode of securing health care services. Require employers to provide health insurance coverage to their employees, determine the content of health insurance policies or limit the construction or expansion of the hospital or medical facilities or to impose a penalty related thereto, is not found in the United States Constitution.
The order was issued after Otter vetoed House Bill 298 [text, PDF] which would have nullified the federal law's application in the state. In a letter [text, PDF] to Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa [official website], Otter explained that he supports repeal of PPACA, but that he vetoed the bill out of concern that it would effectively prohibit the state from creating its own insurance exchange program.

Idaho is one of a group of states [JURIST report] which joined in a suit against the federal government [JURIST report] filed in March 2010 in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website] alleging that PPACA is unconstitutional. The judge in that case struck down [JURIST report] the law. The US Department of Justice [official website] appealed the ruling, and the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] has agreed to hear the case on expedited review [JURIST report]. The health care reform law is the subject of numerous other legal challenges across the country. Last month, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli [official website] filed a petition for a writ of certiorari [JURIST report] with the US Supreme Court [JURIST news archive] asking the court to rule on the constitutionality of the law on an expedited basis, before the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] rules on the issue. In January, a judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Virginia dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging a provision of the health care reform law. In October, a federal judge in Michigan ruled that the law is constitutional [JURIST report] under the Commerce Clause as it addresses the economic effects of health care decisions, and that it does not represent an unconstitutional direct tax.

 

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