In the aftermath of the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, a few of Utah's legislators are hoping the state will lead the nation in a fight against the law.
In conjunction with the 10th Amendment Center, Utah's Patrick Henry Caucus has unveiled a document template for legislation that each state can run that declares the Affordable Care Act null and void in that state.
"Our position is that basically the states cannot afford to implement this," said Rep. Ken Sumsion, R-American Fork, a founding member of the caucus. "The federal government will bankrupt the states by doing this."
Besides the cost to the states, Sumsion also argued that the health care law is an infringement on the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which delegates all responsibilities not listed in the Constitution to the states. Sumsion even went as far as to call for Gov. Gary Herbert to bring the Legislature into a special session to pass the caucus's null and void legislation to start the fight against the Affordable Care Act.
"I want the governor to bring us into a special session," said Sumsion, a former Republican gubernatorial candidate until he lost in this year's state Republican Convention. "I would have."
Sumsion admitted the likelihood that a special session would be called on the matter is slim. Special sessions are traditionally reserved for bill cleanups and budget fixes. Herbert said in a statement after the ruling was issued by the court that it was up to Congress and the American people to work for a repeal of the law and did not make mention of any state action to fight it.
"We need to implement a new plan that empowers individuals and then works with market principles to expand choice and access to health care. At the end of the day, people -- not government -- should be responsible for making health decisions," Herbert said.
Sumsion, who will retire from the Legislature at the end of this year, expects that one of Utah's Republican lawmakers will opt to run some form of the null and void bill in the 2013 session.
The template declares that a state will reject the Affordable Care Act and finds that it violates the true meaning and intent of the Constitution. It also includes a penalty for any agent or employee of the U.S. government, or a company providing services to the U.S. government, that attempts to enforce the Affordable Care Act. The penalty would be a felony that could be punishable of up to five years in jail or $5,000 or both.