Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

May 14 2010

Seven states, National Federation of Independent Businesses added as plaintiffs

SEATTLE – Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna today joined Florida and 18 other states in filing an amended complaint in the lawsuit challenging the federal health care reform act.   The amended complaint now features a total of 20 state plaintiffs and two individual plaintiffs. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has also joined the lawsuit on behalf of its members nationwide.

The individual mandate directly affects NFIB and its members by requiring those individuals to obtain health care or pay a penalty, giving NFIB a distinct basis to represent its individual members and join the lawsuit. The seven states which formally joined the lawsuit today are Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Alaska.

“The additional plaintiffs joining our suit today share our passion for ensuring that Congress passes health care reforms that do not violate the Constitutional rights of individuals across our country,” McKenna said. “Health care reform is a vitally important issue—much too important to build on an unconstitutional foundation. We share the desire to see greater access to quality, affordable health care—and believe it’s possible to provide that access without violating our constitutional rights.”

The two main provisions of the lawsuit continue to focus on:

  • The unprecedented requirement that individuals lacking health insurance must purchase private insurance or face a financial penalty
  • A massive expansion of the Medicaid program, requiring states to spend billions more on this program at a time when state budgets are already in crisis

The suit alleges that, by mandating all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage or pay a penalty, the new law exceeds the powers granted to the federal government under Article I of the Constitution.  It also alleges that the penalty required under the law constitutes an unlawful direct tax in violation of Article I, sections 2 and 9, of the Constitution.

The lawsuit further claims the health care reform law infringes on the sovereignty of the states and violates the 10th Amendment to the Constitution by imposing onerous new operating rules that states like Washington must follow, and by requiring the state to spend additional dollars without providing funds or resources to meet the state's cost of implementing the law.

The original lawsuit was filed against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Department of Labor on March 23, 2010, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. Oral argument is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Sept. 14, 2010.

Copies of the original lawsuit, the amended complaint and the scheduling order are available online at /2010healthcarelawsuit.aspx or at http://www.healthcarelawsuit.us.


Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725