Federal health care law challenged by Alaska House committee

The Anchorage Daily NewsApril 2, 2010 

JUNEAU — The state House Judiciary Committee is challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care reform law. The committee chair introduced a bill called the "Alaska Health Freedom Act" at the request of Palmer Republican Rep. Carl Gatto.

The legislation is modeled on similar bills throughout the country and instructs the attorney general to sue if Alaskans are penalized for not following mandates of the federal law. "Few individual rights are more fundamental than the right to determine one's personal health and finances," Gatto said.

But House Bill 423 has been introduced with little more than two weeks remaining before the Legislature adjourns for the year.

There seems to be limited desire to dive into the complex and contentious health care issue, particularly among members of the state Senate. Senate President Gary Stevens said the Senate is focused on passing the budget, and dealing with oil and gas and other issues before the April 18 adjournment.

"An issue like this at the last minute is unlikely to get traction (in the Senate) if it can even make it out of the House," said Stevens, a Kodiak Republican.

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