Gibbons promises health overhaul lawsuit |

Gibbons promises health overhaul lawsuit

Sandra Chereb
Associated Press
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

CARSON CITY (AP) – Gov. Jim Gibbons said Nevada would challenge the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care legislation passed by Congress and on Monday urged Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to join him in the effort.

“This bill is an effort by Democrats to ram government run health care down our throats,” Gibbons said.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., led the push in the Senate for the bill’s passage. Reid said the bill will help more than 600,000 Nevadans gain access to health care.

Despite their different political affiliations, Gibbons said he was confident Masto “will join me in opposing this illegal federal intrusion into our lives and our state’s rights and sue the federal government.”

Masto’s office, when asked for comment, reissued a statement released in January when the Republican governor first asked for a determination on the bill’s legality after it passed the Senate.

Masto said her office has been monitoring the legislation and has been in contact with other state attorneys general but that any lawsuit are premature until the bill is signed by the president, which could come as early as Tuesday.

Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns said if Masto declines, the administration was prepared to act on its own.

Republican attorneys general in at least 10 states said Monday they have agreed to file a lawsuit challenging the health care overhaul as soon as it’s signed.

Gibbons likened mandated health insurance to the federal government forcing someone to buy a car or television under the threat of being fined by the Internal Revenue Service.

“The federal government has no right to force anyone to buy health insurance and the federal government has no business butting into the relationship between a patient and their doctor,” Gibbons said.

He also criticized Reid for a previous agreement with Nebraska to cover $100 million in that state’s expanded Medicaid costs under the bill, though that provision was eliminated in a revisions bill.

The measure, approved by the Senate in December, passed by the House of Representatives Sunday night. Although the bill does not provide universal health care, it should expand coverage to about 95 percent of eligible Americans, compared with 83 percent today.

Gibbons said the bill will add more than 41,000 people to Nevada’s Medicaid program in 2014 and expand Medicaid enrollment by nearly 60 percent over the following five years, costing the state general fund more than $613 million.

Response to the bill was split along partisan lines. Nevada Democratic Reps. Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus voted in favor of it, while Republican Rep. Dean Heller opposed it.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval said it will penalize businesses and “further harm the economy of our state.”