Commentary: A smart ruling on health care law

The Anchorage Daily NewsMarch 4, 2011 

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson sensibly issued a stay Thursday of his ruling earlier this year that the health care overhaul is unconstitutional.

Judge Vinson was one of two federal judges who have found the federal requirement to buy health insurance violated the U.S. Constitution. Vinson went beyond his colleague in concluding that the entire overhaul was thus unconstitutional.

Gov. Sean Parnell used that conclusion as the basis for refusing to implement any provisions of the health-care bill, arguing that even though other federal judges (three so far) have disagreed with Judge Vinson, Alaska was a party to the Florida suit and thus bound by its decision. Now, unless the feds fail to appeal, Parnell rightly says he'll follow the law and implement the health-care provisions, although he said he'll consider doing so with state, rather than federal money.

The governor already has declined to accept $1 million in federal money to begin planning for an insurance exchange, and that call likely precludes further federal aid to help poorer Alaskans buy that insurance.

We don't think that was the right call, but the governor wasn't required to apply for that assistance. The state already has accepted other federal money to implement the law, and we hope the governor will use it as intended while the constitutional questions work their way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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