Missouri official splits with Obama over health law

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 11, 2011 4:47 PM
Missouri official splits with Obama over health law

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - Missouri's Democratic Attorney General on Monday joined a largely Republican-led effort to have the healthcare reform law signed by President Barack Obama last year ruled unconstitutional.

Chris Koster, a former Republican legislator who switched parties when he ran for state attorney general, filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the appeals court hearing a closely watched challenge to the healthcare law filed by Florida and more than two dozen other states.

Koster's action does not mean Missouri has formally joined that lawsuit, which argues that Obama and the Congress overreached their constitutional authority by imposing minimum health insurance coverage requirements on individuals.

In a letter to top state legislative leaders, Koster said his brief was "not based on any opposition to the expansion of health care coverage for uninsured Americans. To the contrary, I favor the expansion of health coverage."

But Koster argues -- as many health care opponents have -- that the law's requirement that every person purchase health insurance from a private company or face a penalty is unconstitutional.

His filing provides legal support to the plaintiffs, who include the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming -- nearly all Republicans.

(Additional reporting by James B. Kelleher)