Health Bill, Now Law, Moves Back to US Senate and Faces Challenges from States

With the ink still drying from President Obama’s signature, officials from 14 states have started the process of suing to block the health care law from going into effect. These attorneys general say the law’s requirement that individuals buy health insurance violates the Constitution.

Thirteen of those officials filed suit in a federal court in Pensacola, Florida. The complaint calls the act an “unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of the states” and asks a judge to block its enforcement. States involved in this lawsuit include Florida, Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington. The attorney general of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, filed a case separate from the one filed in Pensacola Tuesday afternoon.

Arkansas’ attorney general Dustin McDaniel said he has no plans to challenge the federal health care law.

The Constitution gives Congress broad power to regulate commerce and promote the general welfare of Americans. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday that lawyers have advised the administration it would win the lawsuits.

The bill, signed by President Obama Tuesday, moved back to the US Senate. The Senate is trying to pass amendments to the bill that the House of Representatives issued as “fixes.” These amendments only require a simple majority to be passed into law by the process called reconciliation. If any amendment or adjustment to the language of the bill is passed by the Senate, the bill must go back to the House of Representatives for reconsideration. This is the Republican’s stand to try to delay the passage of the bill, which is already law.

These “fixes” proposed by the House Democrats were corrections to the problems the House Democrats saw in the Senate bill. Some of the “fixes” to the bill include striping the reform package of  many of the special deals that were used to entice voters, like the “Cornhusker Kickback.” It would also push back the “Cadillac” tax on high-priced insurance plans until 2018. The changes would also increase subsidies for low-income people and shift a larger share of the tax burden to the wealthy. The reconciliation bill also includes billions of dollars for student aid.

Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, who voted for the passage of the Senate bill and was the last hold-out, said she plans to vote against a reconciliation bill.

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