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Attorney General Mark Vargo

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PIERRE, S.D–Attorney General Marty Jackley and 19 other state attorneys general and governors today filed a response to the Department of Justice’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care reform act.
“Improving healthcare is too important to build on an unconstitutional foundation through a process that failed to respect the rights of states and individuals. This challenge is about ensuring that the federal government does not exceed its authority by this unprecedented act of forcing South Dakotans to purchase a product or face a penalty,” said Attorney General Marty Jackley.
The lawsuit alleges that the new law infringes upon the constitutional rights of South Dakota residents by mandating all persons have qualifying health care insurance or pay a penalty. By imposing such a mandate, the law exceeds the powers of the United States under Article I of the Constitution, including the ‘Commerce Clause,’ which has never been applied to allow Congress to compel people to buy goods or services. Additionally, the penalty enforcing the mandate, if a tax at all, constitutes an unlawful direct tax in violation of Article I, sections 2 and 9 of the Constitution.
The lawsuit further claims the health care reform law infringes on the sovereignty of the states and Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by imposing onerous new operating rules that South Dakota must follow, as well as requiring the state to spend millions of additional dollars. This burden comes at a time when South Dakota faces severe budget cuts to offset shortfalls in an already-strained budget.
South Dakota’s share of the multi-state litigation agreement has been set not to exceed $1,000. This minimal cost to protect South Dakota’s right to govern was deemed to be a responsible investment particularly in light of the projected increase to our South Dakota Medicaid Budget. Specifically, the estimated cost of the government expansion of healthcare accounting for only the expansion in Medicaid enrollment for 2010-2019 is projected at 53.7 Million to 62 Million; thereafter, it will be an annual $36 Million. This projection does not include inflationary increases, increased provider payments, additional administration costs, etc; it is only for the expansion in Medicaid enrollment. 
The hearing on issues raised by the motion to dismiss will be held on September 14 in Florida before Judge Roger Vinson. Earlier this week, a judge in a similar lawsuit in Virginia ruled against the Department of Justice’s motion to dismiss, finding there existed significant constitutional issues and allowing Virginia's lawsuit to move forward.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, August 6, 2010    

CONTACT: Paige Wilbur, (605) 773-3215