Graham: Wave of state legislatures will fight back against health bill

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) predicted Sunday that a wave of state legislatures would fight to resist federal healthcare reform that will add billions in costs to their budgets.

The prediction signals that Republicans plan to take President Barack Obama up on his challenge to “go for it” and attempt to repeal the $938 billion reform measure.

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“This fight won’t wind up being just in Washington, it’s going to spread to every statehouse in the nation and we’re going to have referendums on this bill throughout every statehouse in the nation,” Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Can the states afford what Washington did to them?”

Graham estimated that 16 million additional people would be placed on Medicaid rolls as a result of Democratic healthcare reform.

“My state is going to get killed by having to serve more Medicaid people,” said Graham. “It’s going to hurt state budgets.”

Attorneys general in more than a dozen states have announced plans to sue the federal government over healthcare reform, alleging the new law violates the constitution.

A Washington Post poll published Sunday showed that 50 percent of people oppose the law while 46 percent support it. The poll showed that public support for the reform has not improved much since Obama signed it into law, even though a USA Today poll from earlier in the week showed the proposal gaining favor, with 49 percent describing it as “a good thing” compared to 40 percent who disagreed.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) gave a preview of how the fight over healthcare reform may play out in states around the country.

Rendell has called on his state’s Republican attorney general, Tom Corbett, to drop a suit challenging the new law.

In Mississippi, Barbour and the Republican lieutenant governor Phil Bryant have pressed Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, to challenge the law, but so far Hood has resisted.

Barbour has threatened to file a lawsuit himself if Hood, who plans to run for a third term in 2011, doesn’t act.

Rendell said suits challenging the new law are “frivolous” and “a waste of taxpayers' dollars at a time when all the states are fighting to preserve those dollars.”

Rendell defended the federal government’s power to regulate interstate as well as intrastate activity.

“This is not a government takeover; we left the private health insurance companies intact,” Rendell said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”


Barbour, who appeared on the same program, argued that the federal government has never had a recognized power to force citizens to buy products such as health insurance.

“The fact of the matter is this is an issue that under our Constitution, where the powers of the federal government are limited, does the federal government have the power and authority to require, force every citizen to buy a product, in this case health insurance,” Barbour said.

“I do not believe the United States governor has the authority or power to force us to purchase health insurance any more than in the name of homeland security they can force every American to buy a gun,” he added.

In six states, there are clashes between governors and attorney generals over legal challenges to healthcare reform.

In Colorado, Michigan and Washington, Democratic governors have also opposed plans by Republican attorneys general to file suit.

In Georgia, Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) has pushed the Democratic attorney general to challenge the law but the state’s lead solicitor, Thurbert Baker, has said the case lacks legal merit.