The state's lawsuit to block part of the new health care regulations is now in the hands of a federal judge. 20 attorneys general joined Florida's AG making a case against a federal mandate to buy insurance and the loosening of Medicaid enrollment rules. The judge has already announced his intentions to rule favorably to at least part of the state's suit.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum arrived at the federal courthouse in Pensacola Thursday confident in his suit against new health care laws. “The judge precursed a little bit that this was something that he might find difficult upholding the constitutionality of on the individual mandate. We know we have a little heavier burden with him on the Medicaid part.”
Across the street Debra Dougherty spoke of her 20 year struggle to pay her son's medical bills. Her son Matt has cystic fibrosis. “Throughout his live we have had to battle; is he going to have insurance, is he not. Who is going to pay for it? He has a copy of 800 dollars a month.”
The new health care laws would loosen enrollment restriction for Medicaid allowing Matt to qualify.
Back inside the courthouse an attorney representing Florida and 20 other states told the judge the federal government can't force states to open their Medicaid rolls. The states also argued that the federal government doesn’t has no authority to force US citizens to buy health insurance.
Monday a judge in Virginia ruled the mandate unconstitutional. McCollum called the ruling encouraging and says the mandate is a congressional over reach of power. “Eventually this goes to the supreme court, and we think just the sheer numbers plus the National Federation of Independent Businesses and couple of individuals gives this lawsuit a lot of weight.”
The US Department of Justice defended the mandate saying the uninsured already have health coverage. It's called the emergency room. And when they don't pay for emergency services we all pay through higher health care costs.
McCollum says if the Medicaid enrollment restrictions are loosened, 1.9 million more Floridians will qualify for the entitlement program adding an additional one billion dollars to the cost to the state.