Monday, March 22, 2010

Healy Calls Upon Blumenthal To Join Suit Against Health Care Bill

Republican Party Chairmen Chris Healy has challenged Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to join other attorneys general in Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, Utah, North Dakota, and South Dakota in a federal law suit to prevent the implementation of the health care reform bill to be signed into law Tuesday by President Barack Obama.

Healy said the bulky and costly bill, which bears a $2 trillion price tag, would greatly impact Connecticut’s financial ability to meet its requirements. Additional, Healy said, the bill is in sharp conflict with the tenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

“Where is Dick Blumenthal when we need him?” asked Healy in a press release. “Our attorney general should put partisan politics aside and protect our rights as patients and tax payers. This legislation is the broadest grab of federal power over the states ever and our elected leaders should resist it with all legal weapons available.”

Healy is not alone in regarding the bill’s key provision, which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance, as violating the commerce clause of the Constitution. He also argues that some of the bills provisions, such as its exemption from liability for Nebraska’s Medicaid costs, will harm Connecticut.

Nebraska has agreed to join the suit.

Throwing down the gauntlet to Blumenthal, Healy said, “Dick Blumenthal always says he wants to protect and fight for consumers. Now is the time to fight for Connecticut’s rights as consumers and taxpayers. This health care bill is an assault on freedom and it interferes with the state’s ability to provide services in an equitable manner.”

10 comments:

Fuzzy Dunlop said...

Wow Don, are you actually supporting a Blumenthal lawsuit for a change. I thought that any time he sues someone it's frivolous?

Don Pesci said...

Fuzzy,

At the risk of disappointing you, which would be unbearable to me, I am simply reporting on this one. It’s not so much the suits I abhor as the grandstanding; the filing of false affidavits; the making of false claims that Blumie's targets engage in fraudulent transfers of assets; the refusal to act in the best interest – in the two cases I’ve examined – of consumers; the dangerous liaison between Blumie and the media, and much else that I object to. As a practical matter, I don’t think the courts will overturn an act of congress this big. I put this down to cowardice, rather than a hearty regard for justice and the constitution, both of which I favor. And where have you been?

Fuzzy Dunlop said...

I thought it had more of a suspiciously neutral feel than your typical posts....

I do think these calls for lawsuits are idiotic. How would Connecticut have standing? There is no taxpayer standing, and, as far as I'm aware, no unfunded mandate in the health care bill. Further, David Frum had an excellent piece today on why Republicans should move on to suggesting realistic reforms (to the current reform), rather than all out repeal (how do you tell people that we're going back to allowing insurance companies to deny coverage for preexisting conditions?).

This actually brings me to a sort of paradox for Republicans. Putting ideology aside, if you look at this pragmatically, these lawsuits and talk of repeal are incredibly dangerous. Let's say that a lawsuit is successful at abolishing the individual mandate, or the mandate gets repealed. Let's also assume that the prohibition on discriminating for preexisting conditions remains in place (I think most people agree that taking away this protection is almost politically impossible now that it exists... who wants to cast a vote saying insurance companies can deny coverage again?). This leads to a a nightmare scenario, economically speaking: moral hazard no longer exists, and individuals can stop buying insurance while they are healthy, waiting until they are sick. Once they are sick, the insurance companies have to cover them, because the restriction is still in place. Mathematically, the only possible result either for premiums to hit the stratosphere, or insurance companies go out of business (or get TARP'd maybe).

Finally, maybe you can help enlighten me on something else though... what the hell does Chris Healy mean by "This health care bill. . . interferes with the state's ability to provide services in an equitable manner."...? What services? Is the chairman of the state Republican party suggesting that state government should be in the business of fairly dispensing medical care? No pun intended, but the the word "equitable" and the concept of state provided services sounds a little red to me (not your kind of red).

PS: I couldn't help but notice our Republican governor merrily announcing the federal funding for the UConn Health Center, just weeks after calling on Dick Blumenthal to sue because of Nebraska's special treatment. A little hypocritical don't you think?

Sorry to ramble, but like you said, it's been a while...

Don Pesci said...

How would Connecticut have standing?

Some think it doesn’t. A person would have to show he is personally injured by the plan.

Republicans should move on to suggesting realistic reforms

It’s been done. Mostly, they’ve been frozen out of the discussion.

This leads to a nightmare scenario, economically speaking: moral hazard no longer exists, and individuals can stop buying insurance while they are healthy, waiting until they are sick. Once they are sick, the insurance companies have to cover them, because the restriction is still in place. Mathematically, the only possible result either for premiums to hit the stratosphere, or insurance companies go out of business (or get TARP'd maybe).

That’s right. Insurance companies go out of business. The Chicago Democrats – are there any other kind? – would say, “So, you got a problem with that.” Next up universal health care, administered by agents of the state, discussed here: http://donpesci.blogspot.com/2010/03/health-care-vote-one-giant-step-for.html


"This health care bill. . . interferes with the state's ability to provide services in an equitable manner."...? What services? Is the chairman of the state Republican party suggesting that state government should be in the business of fairly dispensing medical care?

It is, or will be shortly.

Rell…

Nothing there. Have you ever read “No Exit” by JPS? Bad play, but the idea suggest much of what is wrong with what Wm Buckley, were he alive, would call “the God dammed 21st century.” In Hell, time is a never ending loop.

Fuzzy Dunlop said...

Just to get back to the substance of your blog post Don, (the frivolousness of these lawsuits), the challenge based on an increase in medicaid costs will fail for one simple reason: Medicaid is a VOLUNTARY state program. State's only participate if they choose. They are free to opt out at any time. It just so happens that every state in the Union chooses to participate.

This whole line of argument strikes me as being of the same vein as the "Keep your hands off my Medicare" claims. Perception is unfortunately reality for many, and while it's not particularly shocking to me that average citizens lack an understanding of how medicaid functions, there is no excuse for politicians. I would posit that if politicians like Mike Fedele and Chris Healy really think ObamaCare will bankrupt medicaid, the principled thing to do isn't to file a lawsuit with almost no merit whatsoever. No, principle and logic would dictate that simply calling on the state to opt out of medicaid.

And if either Mr. Fedele or Mr. Healy want to challenge the individual mandate, then I say by all means file a lawsuit personally, or form a class. But don't waste state resources on this snipe hunt.

Don Pesci said...

Fuzzy,

Frivolous is a little on the edge. Virginia may have standing, perhaps some other states as well. Don’t you think that Healy is throwing down the gauntlet to our suit happy attorney general on this one? I’m not sure Blumenthal had standing in the Hoffman case – which I’ve written about here: http://donpesci.blogspot.com/2009/10/everything-you-were-afraid-to-ask-about_30.html – to seize the MAINE property of Hoffman’s husband on a false claim that a fraudulent transfer of assets had occurred. Talk about frivolous law suit. Sheesh!

I’m content to let the courts decide whether the attorneys general in the several states that have threatened suits are engaging in frivolity. And if the courts so judge, the suits will have been less harmful to the public weal than Blumenthal’s endless litigation of the Hoffmans and the principals of New England Pellet, one of whom, not bearing up very well under Blumenthal’s frivolous suit (He really did sue the wrong people: http://donpesci.blogspot.com/2010/01/blumenthal-devil-and-details.html) attempted and very nearly succeeded in committing suicide.

Now that’s frivolity.

I quite understand that Blumenthal is very busy suing Connecticut companies – a partial list of his activity may be found here: http://donpesci.blogspot.com/2010/03/blumenthals-suits.html -- but Healy’s point, I think, may be that the attorney general of Connecticut’s first statutory responsibility is to represent the interests of Connecticut; and, in any Peter pays Paul arrangement, the state will lose on this one. Washington only returns about 68 cents on every Connecticut dollar sent to the beltway. We lose from the starting gate on all redistributist programs.

In any case, if Healy has incommoded Blumenthal, I say throw that man a bouquet.

Fuzzy Dunlop said...

Your points about Blumenthal are fair enough Don. But let's stick to this particular issue/lawsuit. I would honestly like to see these clowns, Fedele and Healy (am I missing anyone? I only caught the Capitol Watch blog post about Mike and didn't read about Healy until I read yours) follow their arguments through to their logical ends and call for Connecticut to opt out of Medicaid altogether. While they're at it, I'd also like to see them come out and say they're for allowing denial on account of preexisting conditions again. In fact, let's see Mike and Jodi ask Dick to sue the federal government for the 100 million dollar earmark for UConn that other states didn't get.

Don Pesci said...

Opting out of Medicaid immediately would be catastrophic, a little bit like removing the center card in a house of cards, even though the logic of the position would seem to require it. Logic often is a brutal taskmaster. The suit, in this case, is less important to me than the insolvency of centralized governmental programs. And that insolvency, as I see it, is not "fixed," or even ameliorated, by Obamacare, an attempt to square the wheel. I know you’d like to see Healy do this or that; some people would like to see him hanged. But I think he is a little too clever to put his neck in a noose fashioned by those, not necessarily you, who would like to see him writhing on a hook in Hell. We have arrived at a point in governance when events are riding us. We can no longer afford, in every sense of the word, to be heedless of consequences. That is the principal message that tea party patriots --- I know, I know a disordered, leaderless and disreputable gang of political barbarians, as viewed from the left – are sending to us: watch out for the rake in the grass! It would be profoundly illogical to dismiss all this as unimportant, and particularly harmful to the kind of politician who has brought us a national debt of crippling proportions. In the time that is coming and will soon be here, thoughtlessness, or remaining in the old mode, when time and circumstances have eaten out our substance, are our most fearful enemies. Good thing you can think. Some cannot.

In any case, I enjoy your remarks. they are spring water to me. And you have well earned the last word.

Fuzzy Dunlop said...

You said "Opting out of Medicaid immediately would be catastrophic, a little bit like removing the center card in a house of cards, even though the logic of the position would seem to require it." True. This is only emblematic, however, of the Republican "all or nothing" approach to this issue. They reject nuance for platitudes, honest discussion for sound bites. They have chosen to engage in silliness, of which these lawsuits are a symptom. Serious questions are now raised regarding how to pay for this. But prior to passage they were lost in the din of "Death Panels" and "socialism" and cries of Hitler come to America in the guise of a black man. Now serious dialogue continues to be at risk of being drowned in a cacophony of empty lawsuits, engaged in by Republican attorneys general for no less political reasons than can be normally attributed to a typical Blumenthal suit. Perhaps these lawsuits might, as you suggest, serve to highlight the looming problem of federal insolvency. But more likely they will be a distraction from the real work that needs to be done. Make no mistake, changes will be made to this scheme. Eight years is a long time. But they will properly be done by legislative means. Fear mongering will only lead to a piecemeal reactionary approach that will only make matters worse (again, my biggest fear: maintaining the prohibition on denying coverage preexisting conditions [as I've said, repealing this would be political suicide and is unlikely] while at the same time removing the individual mandate). The time for rhetoric and symbolic gestures is at an end. Real negotiations will need to take place in the coming years, between two sides genuinely willing to engage one another honestly. But how do you negotiate at all, with someone who sincerely believes that you are a baby killer or Nazi?

Richard E. said...

Blummy showing his true real colors he wont go against Obama "I will take on anyone in the name of justice for all . . . unless I and they are on the same side"

and theres NO $$ in it for him . . . after draining our tax dollars for years on the well reported and not well reported suits herein . . . he now has to be $$ concscience . . . also NO Press or in this he would be just be one of the crowd