Kansas should stay out of health care suit, governor says

Wichita EagleApril 8, 2010 

Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson said Wednesday that he supports Attorney General Steve Six's decision to keep the state out of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new national health care law.

"For me it's just a dollar and cents thing," Parkinson said. "If we join the lawsuit, all we do is we share in the cost. I don't see why we would share in the cost if the thing is going to happen anyway."

Parkinson, a Democrat, said he doesn't think Kansas participation would make a difference in whether the controversial law gets overturned by the Supreme Court.

"There are a number of other states that are already suing," Parkinson said in an interview with The Eagle's news and editorial departments. "They have retained an independent, high-powered, high-priced law firm that's going to go out and challenge the suit. The suit's either going to be successful or not."

Six, a former judge, has said his legal analysis found the lawsuit is politically motivated and likely to fail in court. Like Parkinson, Six said he saw no reason to spend the state's money.

Eighteen states have joined the legal action, alleging that the new law infringes on individuals' rights by mandating they have health insurance, or pay a tax penalty.

The attorney general has been pressured by some Kansas lawmakers and may ultimately be forced to bring the state into the lawsuit.

Rep. Aaron Jack, R-Andover, is sponsoring a resolution in the Kansas House that would force Six to join the lawsuit. He said he expects it to come to a vote when the House returns for its annual wrap-up session later this month.

Under Kansas law, a simple majority vote in either the House or Senate can compel the attorney general to take legal action — and the resolution is not vulnerable to a veto by the governor, Jack said.

He also disputed the governor's contention that Kansas involvement wouldn't influence the outcome of the multistate lawsuit.

"I'm disappointed he (Parkinson) has such a low opinion of the attorney general's ability," Jack said.

Parkinson said he trusts Six's analysis.

"He knows much more about the legal reasons not to join the lawsuit," Parkinson said. "His office has done all the research on whether it has merit and whether we're likely to win or not."

Parkinson said he supports the new health care law, which was shepherded through the process by President Obama and congressional Democrats.

Read more of this story at Kansas.com

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