Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is urging other Republican senators to join him in joining the legal challenge to healthcare reform, after filing a brief asserting that “the law’s mandate that all Americans purchase health insurance is unconstitutional.”
Urging his newly ascendant GOP comrades encouraging them to sign the brief, McConnell voiced his “strong support” of lawsuits pending in about 20 states seeking to overturn part or all of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to media reports.
“While I strongly believe that we should repeal the law and replace it with the types of commonsense reforms Americans support, I also strongly support the efforts of over twenty States that have challenged this law in the courts,” McConnell wrote in a letter to Republican senators, according to Roll Call.
The amicus brief, posted online by the Politico website (PDF), was filed in support of Florida attorney general William McCollum’s lawsuit against the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services in the U.S. District Court for Northern Florida. It argues that “if the mandate is deemed constitutional, there will no longer be any real limit on Congress’ power to regulate citizens’ activity.”
The full-frontal assault, launched even before Republicans take control of the U.S. House of Representatives next year, comes as no surprise to Washington healthcare watchers. Brett Loper, senior vice president and director of government affairs for AdvaMed, the Advanced Medical Technology Assn., told MassDevice last week that GOP leaders believe their recent victory is a mandate for rolling back President Barack Obama’s signature achievement from his first two years in office.
“Clearly the leadership in the House believes that the mandate from the voters is to attempt to repeal [healthcare reform],” Loper told us. “But it doesn’t take a legislative genius to realize that it takes a two-thirds majority to overturn a veto and President Obama is unlikely to veto a law he views as one of his signature achievements.”
The game then will resemble “legislative Jenga,” added Wanda Moebius, vice president of policy communication for the trade council, with Republicans seeking to pick on individual aspects of the law, looking to undermine it piece by piece until the entire edifice collapses. And a number of factors will determine what the act actually looks like as it’s implemented, Loper said.