Small-Business Lobby Joins Florida Lawsuit Challenging Health-Care Reform

The National Federation of Independent Businesses, a lobbying group for small businesses, joined Florida’s legal challenge to the health-care reform law passed in March by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.

The filing today came as the end-of-week deadline approached for amending the complaint that was initially filed by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. The lawsuit now includes 20 states, according to the court filing.

The states claim the legislation places an unconstitutional burden on their budgets with an expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health-care program for the poor. Virginia sued separately in March, contending that a requirement that people buy health insurance exceeds Congress’s powers.

The legislation “could force some small businesses to close,” Karen Harned, executive director of the organization’s Washington legal center, said today in a press conference in Tampa, Florida.

Joining Florida in a suit filed in Pensacola were Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington. The suit was amended to include Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Nevada, and South Dakota.

Both the Florida and Virginia lawsuits ask the courts to declare the legislation unconstitutional.

The Justice Department has said it would vigorously defend the constitutionality of the law.

Medicaid Extension

The health-care overhaul will extend Medicaid coverage to 16 million more Americans, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The legislation will cost the states billions of dollars to administer, the attorneys general claim.

The attorneys general opposing the health bill claim it will deprive states of sovereignty and will violate the Constitution’s 10th Amendment, which says powers not granted to the national government are reserved by the states.

The case is State of Florida v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 10-cv-00091, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida (Pensacola).

To contact the reporter on this story: William McQuillen in Washington at bmcquillen@bloomberg.net.

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