Rob McKenna Accused Of Being Two-Faced on ObamaCare Lawsuit

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Health care activists are planning on marching to state Attorney General Rob McKenna's office this morning to demand that the Republican gubernatorial candidate "drop" the ObamaCare lawsuit that is now being debated by the U.S. Supreme Court. The lawsuit is not exactly his to drop; 25 other attorneys general are also pushing it forward. Still, the activists are spotlighting his role--one that they claim is two-faced.

McKenna maintains that he is opposed only to specific parts of the Affordable Care Act, most notably the "individual mandate" that requires the uninsured to purchase health care plans. He says he backs other parts of the act, like the provision that lets young adults be insured through their parents, and one that prevents companies from using preexisting conditions as a barrier to insurance.

Yet Washington CAN!, the non-profit behind today's rally, points out that the lawsuit McKenna signed onto "explicitly asks the court to strike down the entire law."

It's a point also made by state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who tells Seattle Weekly that McKenna is trying to "have his cake and eat it too." And it's easy to see why McKenna would want to at a time that he's running for governor. McKenna's participation in the lawsuit allows him to play to his conservative base. His rhetoric, meanwhile, may appease some Democrats.

In an interview with SW, McKenna spokesperson Janelle Guthrie acknowledges some disconnect between the lawsuit and what she describes as the attorney general's intentions. "He's consistently said from the get-go that he disagrees with that part of the lawsuit," she says of the argument to render all of ObamaCare unconstitutional. He has not chipped in any state money for legal expenses, she adds.

But, she says,he put his name to the suit in order to "help shape some of the arguments."

As he and his office portray it, then, McKenna is in the strange position of hoping that the lawsuit he signed onto will not fully prevail. In a press release yesterday afternoon, he suggested that the Supremes could follow the lead of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. That court rendered the individual mandate unconstitutional, but left the rest of ObamaCare standing-- at least in theory.

Supporters of the act claim that it won't work without the individual mandate. So like it or not, McKenna may help put the reform effort back to square one.

 
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