Haslam asks Obama to rush health care appeals

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam joined other governors last week when he asked President Barack Obama to expedite the legal process for cases challenging the federal healthcare bill.

Almost two-dozen lawsuits challenge the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, saying it's unconstitutional to force people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Advocates counter, all must be included, or economy of scale is lost.

Haslam wants Obama to tell his Cabinet secretaries, who are defendants in the suits, to file appeals quickly, so the case may go to the Supreme Court.

"Beyond the merits of this issue..." Haslam wrote, "our people deserve to know the future of how their state governments will be structured, how their wallets will be affected, and how their choices in health care will be determined."

Meanwhile, the House voted 245-189 to nullify what opponents call "Obamacare," but the Senate declined, 51-47, to do likewise. Congress, however, has agreed to eliminate a requirement on small businesses to file information on employee health coverage.

In different parts of the country, federal judges have ruled both ways on the complaints filed to overturn the law that prohibits insurance companies from denying health insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

The new law also requires insurers to offer coverage to children under age 26 when on their parents' policies, according to the New York Times.

In Lynchburg, Va., Liberty University sued, saying, among other things, that it violates freedom of speech and association rights by requiring plaintiffs to buy health insurance for themselves or employees from companies that sell plans that cover abortion. The judge rejected the claim, but Liberty's lawyer said the law will be struck down because Congress does not have the authority to force people to buy a particular kind of health insurance, according to a report in the Christian Post.

Amid different rulings, and facing a weak economy that restricts budgetary options, Tennessee's new governor urged the President to help the system work faster.

"Our people deserve more than uncertainty," Haslam wrote. "They deserve an answer. And, very simply put, Mr. President: our people cannot afford to wait."