McKenna missed oral arguments this morning as the U.S. Department of Justice attempted to shut down a lawsuit he filed along with 19 other state Attorneys General to overturn Obamacare. But after being briefed by a staffer who listened in, McKenna told reporters by phone, "I think it's obvious that the judge is going to let this lawsuit move forward."
If McKenna and Co. are successful, you might want to rethink any plans you had for quitting your job in 2014 on the assumption Obamacare would kick in.McKenna said his decision to pursue the lawsuit, over the will of Governor Chris Gregoire, has nothing to do with the health care policy; it's entirely about the Constitution.
His challenge hinges on a requirement in this year's federal health care reform act that starting in 2014, everyone in the U.S. must purchase insurance or face a tax penalty. The mandate was a concession to insurance companies--since the law says they can no longer deny insurance to anyone based on a preexisting condition, it also requires that people not wait until they get sick to buy coverage.
If Congress is allowed to require people to purchase health insurance, it would open the door to allowing the feds to, say, "make us buy a new Chevy every three years," McKenna claimed.
The Department of Justice argued that Congress does have the right to tax citizens, so creating a tax penalty (rather than making it a crime) for not having health insurance is legal.
U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson said he will "probably" allow the suit to go forward, according to Bloomberg. He plans to make his final ruling one month from today. The general assumption seems to be that the case will eventually find its way to the hallowed halls of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a statement released yesterday, McKenna also said that "health care reform is essential--and much too important to build on an unconstitutional foundation."
So SW asked what constitutionally sound reform might look like. "They could bring more people into Medicaid or Medicare," he responded. McKenna then conceded that a single-payer system, favored by the likes of super-left, Seattle-area Representative Jim McDermott could fit the Constitutional bill.
But somehow we don't think that the Republican McKenna, who says he will decide on whether or not to take a shot at the state governor's mansion next year, would be terribly in favor of that either.