AG Conway comments on health care reform legal challenge

Uploaded by kyoag on 25.03.2010

First of all, thank you for coming out this afternoon
obviously we scheduled this
fairly quickly and have done so
in response to a press conference
that was held earlier today
in Frankfort led by Jeff Hoover
and Republican members of
the General Assembly.
I've never really been big on
delivering letters at the same time you're holding a
press conference but since they've chosen to do that
I want to go ahead and give my response as quickly and as clearly as possible because
this is an issue that we have examined in some detail.
I want to be clear, I do NOT intend to use by authority as the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
to sign our state
onto a health care lawsuit
against the federal government
because I'm not going to waste taxpayer dollars
on a political stunt.
Again, I'm not going to waste taxpayer dollars
on a political stunt.
While this may make for
good Tea Party politics for
Trey Greyson
or Jeff Hoover
or the Republicans in the Senate,
it makes for bad lawsuits because it's based on questionable legal principles.
So I want to be as clear as I can be at the outset
about this. We have looked
at this particular issue.
When it comes to the individual mandate
in this particular
health care bill
similar structures have been upheld
under 70 years of jurisprudence when it comes to our social security system.
The Social Security Act has been challenged.
I'm afraid, quite frankly,
that if a lawsuit like this, which won't prevail,
and many Constitutional scholars across the country are saying it's not going to prevail,
but if we were to go down this path
it could potentially dismantle the social security system under some of the same
legal principles that are
present or being claimed in this particular
lawsuit. So again
under the Commerce Clause issue, under Commerce clause jurisprudence,
it's pretty clear that this particular scheme will withstand scrutiny.
It's very clear that the Constitution gives Congress the power
to provide for the general welfare
and this certainly falls within that as well.
Claims being made
that there is a "commandeering"
or a 10th Amendment argument here, that this is asking States
to do too much
Let's be clear,
this piece of legislation gives the States a choice
you can set up these exchanges yourself as a State.
If you choose not to then the Secretary of Health and Human Services is empowered
to come in and set one up in the individual States.
So States have a choice, and that largely dispenses with
the "commandeering" argument.
Thirdly, it's my understanding that Rep. Hoover and
House Republicans have made a lot of his argument
that this is a
300-million dollar unfunded
mandate on the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Their words. Not mine.
Simple research of this bill
could have dispelled
with this false claim.
Medicaid has been
and continues to be
a voluntary program for the States.
What the States do is they put up money to draw down Federal dollars.
Kentucky has been a 30/70 State, putting up 30 cents on the dollar to draw down 70.
Due to some stimulus money were down to about 20/80.
The States are paying
nothing, NOTHING
under this particular structure
in this health care law
until the year 2017, and even then they're putting up 5 percent to draw down 95 percent.
The draw-down provisions are much more generous than the State receives even now.
But, more importantly, the legal principle is it's a VOLUNTARY program. You draw it down
if you want to, if you have the resources,
so when you look at it
this argument about an unfunded mandate
does not hold water.
So again,
as I study the issues, as I look at the response of Constitutional scholars,
to the fact that 14 AGs have stepped up and filed two lawsuits,
in particular
as I've talked to other AGs around the country about this issue, it's a political
stunt. It's a political stunt
by a party that has lost on this particular issue
and I'm not going to commit
the resources of the Office of the Attorney General of Kentucky,
taxpayer resources, at a time
when our budget has been cut,
in the time when over the last couple of years our budget's been cut 26 percent,
I'm not going to commit resources of this office
to a political stunt.