Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


McKenna says Americans deserve a timely answer on requirement to buy federally-approved insurance

OLYMPIA – Attorney General Rob McKenna today reiterated his position on the 26-state lawsuit challenging the federal health care reform law passed in 2010.

“I continue to believe the court may find parts of the federal health care reform law unconstitutional without nullifying the entire law,” McKenna said. “There are many parts of the law that may be beneficial to Americans and their families without violating their Constitutional rights—and I believe those parts should be retained.

“In a multi-state case, legal briefs reflect the majority’s opinion on the issue,” he said. “And while I was unable to persuade my colleagues to my point of view, it’s vitally important Washington’s viewpoint continue to be represented in this case. That’s why I did not opt to remove Washington from the 26-state group.

“At this point, Washington has been protecting the rights of its citizens at very little cost by participating in conference calls and reviewing briefs without participating in the cost-sharing agreement funding the legal costs of the multi-state suit,” he said. “Filing a separate suit would require additional funds at a time when Washington has nothing to spare—and furthermore, it would not impact the outcome. This case is before the US Supreme Court where it belongs.”

“Health care reform is too important to be built on an unconstitutional foundation,” he said. “All 26 states agree that the so-called “individual mandate” is unconstitutional—and the courts in this case have agreed that the federal government may not force Americans to purchase a government-approved product in the private marketplace. It’s time for the US Supreme Court to settle this—and all the issues surrounding this law—once and for all so Americans can move forward with their health care decisions with greater certainty for the future.”

On August 12, 2011, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 2-1 opinion, ruling the federal government may not force individuals to purchase government-approved health insurance in the private marketplace, striking down the so-called “individual mandate” of the Affordable Care Act.  The 11th Circuit, however, differed with lower court on the issue of whether the entire act should be nullified.  The Circuit Court concluded that the individual mandate could be struck down without declaring the entire act unconstitutional.

Attorney General Rob McKenna supports moving this case quickly through the legal process so that individuals and businesses have a degree of certainly about what will happen with their health care costs. According to the Congressional Budget Office, health care spending represents about 17 percent of the American economy.

The Supreme Court’s upcoming term begins on Oct. 3 and runs through the end of June 2012.


Janelle Guthrie, Deputy Chief of Staff/Communications Director, 360-584-3046