Administration: Health lawsuit 'without merit'

The suit was filed this week by 13 state attorneys general, who are challenging the constitutionality of the new law.

A senior administration official expressed confidence that the healthcare overhaul would withstand legal disputes during a talk with reporters. The official described the suit as bogus and accused the Republican attorneys general behind it of acting for political gain.

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"We believe that the lawsuits that have been filed thus far in an effort to block healthcare reform are completely without merit," the official said. "In our view this is nothing new."

The lawsuit is one major portion of the Republican effort to block the new law that no member of their party in Congress supported.

Republicans have insisted they will do anything they can to stop the healthcare law from taking effect. In addition to the lawsuit, several members of Congress have introduced measures to repeal the law.

Among the provisions cited by the suit as illegal are the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, the state health insurance exchanges and mandates to expand Medicaid eligibility. 

The official said that all of the provisions are grounded in sound legal precedent and that the claims in the lawsuit are "false and in direct conflict with Supreme Court precedent that is directly on point." The official listed several cases, both old and new, that uphold the disputed provisions of the new health law. 

The White House official added that prior legal challenges to social legislation, such as Social Security, the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act, failed in court.

With regards to the attorneys general who filed the suit, the official said that several are running for higher office and are milking the case for free publicity.

"The people who are out in front of this are running for higher office for the most part and this is a pretty good way to get on TV," the official said. 

At least two of them, Florida's Bill McCollum and Michigan's Mike Cox, are running for governor this cycle.

The official expressed confidence that the law would stand the test, even if it reached the politically divided Supreme Court.

"We have confidence that when presented with the facts, the courts will uphold the law," the official said.

Even if a court was to strike down one part of the legislation, the White House believes that would not torpedo the entire $940 billion law, calling that possibility "highly unlikely."

One Republican attorney general who is party to the case predicted it would reach the high court, but the official was reserved when asked how far the White House thinks the suit will go.

"I don't know that we would speculate on individual decisions that would be made," the official said.