Gov. Phil Bredesen indicated today he won’t push to try blocking federal health care legislation in court.
While Bredesen, a Democrat in his last year in office, has in the past taken issue with the hefty $1.5 billion price tag the plan could mean to Tennessee in expanded Medicaid costs, he said the decision-making authority to file legal action is properly left to Attorney General Bob Cooper.
“I think it just encourages really bad behavior on the part of legislators just seeing everything as an opportunity to hold things up and get something. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work,” he told reporters Monday after addressing the Nashville Rotary Club.
Cooper said last week he’s going to hold off deciding whether to pursue a legal course against the federal government’s health care reform package until the final legislation is ironed out in Washington.
Republican state Reps. Susan Lynn, Mt. Juliet, and Debra Young Maggart, Hendersonville, urged Cooper to begin investigating now whether Tennessee has a case against the health care overhaul on the basis that the federal insurance-purchase mandate is a violation of Tenth Amendment state sovereignty protections.
Another sticking point for many critics was the political compromising behind the U.S. Senate’s bill, which exempted Nebraska from paying its share to expand Medicaid programs.
State Senate speaker Ron Ramsey, a Republican candidate for governor in 2010, has also called on Cooper to “examine the constitutionality of federal legislation which singles out Nebraska for favorable treatment over 49 other states.”
Sen. Diane Black, a registered nurse from Gallatin, said she’d too would like to see Tennessee fight the federal government’s health care plan on the basis that it creates a mandate and favors one state over others.
“I would just assume they just not try to mandate how health care should be conducted in our particular state,” the Republican said.
Bredesen said he was “very unhappy” that Nebraska will be spared the full cost of the legislation.
“I will be honest. It is just a huge load on the states at a time when we’re still digging out of this recession,” Bredesen said about Washington’s efforts at health care reform.
The governor stopped short of saying whether he felt the state should join or ignore the 13 other Republican attorneys general who have lined up to fight the health care package.
Legislators in at least 16 other states have introduced bills or constitutional amendments to stifle the health care package, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.