Florida AG calls insurance mandates unconstitutional “tax on living”

Other than Harry Reid preening over his Pyrrhic victory, at this point who is happy with the Senate's health care legislation? It's certainly not state governments. The New York Times reports that a nearly a dozen state attorney generals are lined up to challenge the legality of the legislation's required insurance mandates. In particular, Florida's attorney general seems really ready to tee this one up:

The attorney general, William McCollum, a Republican who is running for governor in 2010, said that the so-called mandate was “an affront to our country’s principles.” He added that the fine might be illegal because, in his view, it is disconnected from any commercial act.

“It’s a tax on living,” Mr. McCollum said in a telephone conference call with reporters. “It’s a tax on people or a penalty on those who don’t do anything.”

Since the beginning, people have openly questioned the constitutionality of forcing people to buy insurance. If it is declared unconstitutional, that's no small matter. It may make the legislation financially unworkable. You can't force insurers to take on everyone without regard for pre-existing conditions unless you can also vastly increase the size of the risk pool — preferably by forcing lots of young and healthy people on to insurance rolls.

Beltway ConfidentialUS

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