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Alaska to Join Lawsuit Challenging National Health Care


April 20, 2010

(SitNews) - Alaska Governor Sean Parnell today announced that the State of Alaska will join 20 other states in challenging the constitutionality of recently enacted federal heath care reform legislation. Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan released a detailed legal memorandum in which he analyzes the potential legal claims and recommends the constitutional challenge.

"With the enactment of health care legislation, the federal government has reached well beyond the scope of its authority - into the lives and freedom of Alaskans," Governor Parnell said. "This case is ultimately about the extent to which the federal government can exert power over the states. It has critical implications for the liberty interests of all American citizens. Alaska must join this important litigation."

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act contains an individual mandate that requires U.S. citizens to purchase federal government-approved "qualifying" health insurance coverage beginning in 2014. Those who refuse to purchase a government-approved health insurance plan will have to pay a tax penalty of $695 per year or 2.5 percent of their annual income, whichever is higher.

"The individual mandate is an unprecedented federal action," said Attorney General Sullivan. "Never before has the federal government required people to buy a good or service as a condition of being a lawful resident in the United States. The authority to require American citizens to comply with this mandate should be challenged as beyond the scope of Congress' Commerce Clause powers as enumerated in Article I of the Constitution. By joining this suit, we are defending the bedrock constitutional principles of federalism, limited government, and individual liberty."

The governor emphasized that the decision to sue is more about Alaskans' liberty interests than about health care legislation. "Health insurance coverage is not in the public interest if it's achieved through a constitutional short-cut that expands federal power at the expense of states' rights and the liberties of citizens," he said.

In a prepared statement Congressman Don Young (R-AK) said, "I commend Governor Parnell and Attorney General Sullivan for taking a step towards ensuring freedom for Alaskans."

Young said, "The recently passed health care legislation was a steep infringement on the liberties of the American people and an intrusion into their lives. This Administration force-fed America a bill that will increase premiums while growing inefficient government bureaucracy by establishing nearly 160 new boards, commissions, and programs.The health care legislation is absolutely unconstitutional and joining in this lawsuit is the right thing to do for Alaskans."

"I fully support the Governor in this endeavor. I have already signed on as a cosponsor to H.R. 4910, a bill to repeal the health care legislation, and will do whatever else I can to help him with this at the federal level," said Young.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) also commented on the announcement that Alaska is joining 19 other states in a lawsuit against the federal government over the new health care. The 19 states are challenging the legal requirement for everyone to purchase health insurance and the Medicaid mandate on states.

In a prepared statement, Sen. Murkowksi said, "I am looking for ways to repeal the most egregious parts of the law - the tax hikes, Medicare cuts and increased premiums - and replace them with proposals that will reign in the spiraling costs of health care, such as junk lawsuit reforms and allowing insurers to sell across state lines. But because President Obama is likely to veto any Congressional efforts to repeal the health care plan, I am highly encouraged that Alaska has chosen to join 19 other states to challenge the constitutionality of this law. I am opposed to the onerous individual mandate that will require Alaskans to purchase health insurance or otherwise face a stiff penalty -- ultimately 2.5 percent of one's taxable income. During the health care debate, I supported a measure that would have allowed states to 'opt out' of the health care plan. Unfortunately, the majority in the Senate chose not to give states that option."

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) also provided a prepared statement. Begich said, "At a time when Alaska's unemployment rate is at record highs and families are struggling to make ends meet, the administration of Governor Sean Parnell has decided to spend countless hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars on a lawsuit of dubious merit which is unlikely to be successful. That level of state dollars and resources could be better spent keeping our economy healthy, creating jobs for Alaskans and protecting public safety."

The Department of Law's 48-page legal memorandum analyzing the federal health care legislation found that most of the legal theories challenging the federal act do not raise serious constitutional issues. The department concluded that the individual mandate was the most troubling and constitutionally suspect provision of the federal act.

The Department of Law's constitutional analysis of the federal health care bill is available at the following links:


On the Web:



Source of News:

Office of the Governor

Office of Congressman Don Young

Office of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Office of U.S. Sen. Mark Begich


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