The presumptive leader in the 2010 race for governor of the Sunshine State has launched a controversial public campaign to persuade Attorneys Generals in other states to join him in “launching a full review of the constitutionality of the individual mandate and potential legal options for States to pursue on behalf of their citizens should this mandate become law,” Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum writes in a letter to his AG peers.
The Senate recently approved a draft of the healthcare reform bill that provides for a mandatory tax of $700 to $4,000 against individuals who do not obtain health insurance coverage, either individually or through their employers, before 2013. The provision was added when lobbyists for the nation’s top health insurance companies successfully negotiated it in exchange for dropping an additional proposal that bans insurance companies from declining to provide coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions.
McCollum maintains that the tax would violate the provision of individual freedoms contained in both the United States Constitution and that of the State of Florida.
“I have grave concerns about the constitutionality of this mandate,” said McCullom. “Such a ‘living tax’ is worrisome because it would be levied on a person who does nothing, a person who simply wishes not to be forced to buy health insurance coverage…The mandate is especially troubling to Floridians who are guaranteed through the Florida Constitution to have ‘the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into [their] private life.’”
In another public statement to the media, McCullom explained his stance against the proposed tax and threatens legal action if it becomes law.
“I am committed to pursuing any legal action necessary to defend (the rights)…of the more than 18 million individuals who call Florida home,” writes McCollum.
Earlier this year, McCollum announced his intent to seek the Republican nomination for Governor of Florida in 2010. He intends to replace Governor Charlie Crist, a fellow Florida Republican, after serving one term as Attorney General. McCollum is considered the frontrunner in the race for the nomination because Crist also served as AG for Florida before he took over the state’s highest office.
Democratic Senator Dan Gelber of Miami, who is running to replace McCullom as Attorney General, quickly criticized McCullom in a statement shortly after McCllom announced his intent to review the constitutionality of the healthcare tax.
“General McCollum’s decision to use his office to investigate ways to block health insurance reform is exactly why we need new leadership in the Attorney General’s office,” said Gelber. “There are four million Floridians without health care including 800,000 children. Only one state has a higher percentage of uninsured. I wish McCollum was as concerned about solving Florida’s health care crisis as he was about stopping the solving of the health care crisis.”