Colorado joins state suits against health care reform bill

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Attorney General John Suthers will join nearly a dozen other states in challenging the health care reform act passed over the weekend..

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires people to purchase health insurance or face a penalty. The lawsuit will also challenge the constitutionality of the penalties included in the legislation.

“The U.S. Constitution gives the federal government only enumerated powers,” Suthers said in a press conference Monday afternoon. “Congress is attempting for the first time in our history to use the interstate commerce power to regulate citizens who choose not to engage in a commercial activity, by forcing them to buy insurance.”

Constitutional scholars claim that it’s the reach of the legislation that matters. State governments mandate car insurance, and Massachusetts mandates individual health insurance — but neither regulation crosses state lines, which brings into play the interstate commerce clause of the nation’s Constitution.

Suthers said he reached his decision after “careful analysis” of the individual health care mandate. He believes the reform bill leaves the door open for Congress to mandate any commercial activity.

“As desirable as it may be for all Americans to purchase health care insurance the commerce clause … does not give Congress the authority to compel a citizen … to purchase a product or serve that Congress deems beneficial,” he said. “Such an expansion of federal power would render the 10th amendment meaningless.”

Some analysts believe the issue is less about the nation’s Constitution, and more about state fiscal woes. States are slashing budgets due to lower revenue, and see the mandates as just another federal burden to manage.

Colorado joins Alabama, Florida, Virginia, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington in suing the federal government about the legislation.