This Washington

Health Care Lawsuit Arguments Coincide with McKenna Announcement

By Josh Feit June 7, 2011

It's hard not to notice the timing. Tomorrow, as has been widely reported, Republican Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna is announcing his candidacy for governor. Coincidentally, oral arguments begin tomorrow in the multi-state lawsuit against the federal health care law passed in 2010. McKenna is one of the 26 plaintiffs in the case, joining with 26 other states' AGs who have sued to overturn the law, and the case is a certain way to fire up Republican voters.

In a press release today from the AG's office, McKenna said:
“Health care reform is essential—and much too important to build on an unconstitutional foundation, This law's unprecedented mandate forcing all Americans to purchase government-approved insurance has created an incredible amount of uncertainty for families, businesses and state governments.

Polling shows voters are split on the health care reform law.

However, McKenna needs to be mindful of that split—Democrats for, Republicans against. His his rallying cry  could undermine McKenna's reputation as a moderate, which makes him the strongest Republican candidate for governor in years. (The GOP hasn't won a governor's race in Washington since 1980.)

The lawsuit has already created political problems for McKenna. The case is not solely about the insurance mandate, and McKenna got some flack for trying to have it two ways: Saying he was for the popular reforms such as preventing insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions even though the case against the law seeks to repeal the whole batch of reforms.

When we raised this issue with AG spokesman Dan Sytman back in Februray, he told us:
As Attorney General McKenna has said, he does not believe that every section of the new law, including protections for those with pre-existing conditions, violates the Constitution.  McKenna supports the need for affordable, accessible health care for the people of Washington and their families—he just doesn’t think we need to violate their Constitutional rights to give it to them.

 
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