published Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Ramsey demands attorney general oppose health reform

NASHVILLE -- Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, stepped up demands Tuesday that state Attorney General Bob Cooper join 13 other states in opposing implementation of new federal health care reforms.

"The United States Constitution does not give the federal government the authority for this massive power grab that will reduce individual liberty and strangle state government finances," said Lt. Gov. Ramsey, who is Senate speaker. "Politicians in Washington may have temporarily lost their minds, but we still have our sanity out here in the states and we need to take action to roll this law back."

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed the health care reform bill into law.

In response to the federal bill, Lt. Gov. Ramsey also urged a House subcommittee to pass the Tennessee Health Freedom Act, which contends the federal law's mandate that everyone have insurance coverage is unconstitutional. The bill also directs Mr. Cooper to oppose the mandates in court.

The federal bill expands health care insurance to millions of Americans, including at least a quarter million people in Tennessee, according to TennCare estimates.

Cooper spokeswoman Sharon Curtis-Flair said in an e-mail that the attorney general has instructed his staff to "begin a thorough detailed analysis" of the federal legislation. She noted the reforms may change during the congressional bill reconciliation process.

Moreover, she said, while Mr. Cooper is "mindful of the concerns" voiced by Lt. Gov. Ramsey and other lawmakers, "this is complex legislation that will be implemented in stages over the coming decade."

WHAT'S NEXT

The Tennessee Health Freedom Act (House Bill 3433) is scheduled to be considered today in the House Industrial Impact Subcommittee.

On Monday, Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, for whom Mr. Cooper once served as legal counsel, noted that provisions of the federal law won't take effect until 2014 and Mr. Cooper will have plenty of time to sort it out.

The governor also said he doesn't see the Tennessee Health Freedom Act getting very far in federal courts.

"Arguing that the Congress doesn't have the right to do something like this is pretty much an uphill fight in this day and age," the governor told reporters.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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johnh said...

Ron Ramsey needs to quit using these diversion tactics about healthcare reform to draw attention away from this sessions legislative agenda that is all about taking care of those PACS that have contributed over $150,000 to his Governor campaign. Pfizer alone has contributed over $30,000 and he and Senator Johnson are making sure Tenncare is taking good care of their interest.

Ramsey needs some special attention from the ethics commission he now opposes. In addtion to Big Pharma, he is taking money from the Payday loan people and they have a new Senate Bill that limits Payday loan interest to 100%. He is really all about sticking it to those who are suffering in this enviroment.

March 24, 2010 at 7:31 a.m.
memphisexile said...

Ramsey needs to consult some legal authority before he wastes a bunch of tax payer money in a legal fight he will lose a la Bill Hullander and his 10 commandments debacle. This kind of legislation fits neatly under the Article I commerce clause power ("To regulate commerce....[A]mong the several states.") and challenges to it would be a waste of time and money.

I agree with johnh. Ramsey needs to do his job and pay attention to what is going on in Tennessee. We have enough local problems for him to deal with. When Tennessee wants him to address national problems we will elect him to Congress or the Senate. Until then do your job and focus on Tennessee.

March 24, 2010 at 10:23 a.m.
acerigger said...

with all the special interest money flowing into our republican lawmakers in our state, i'm sure Ramsey doesn't worry about spending taxpayer money in order to appease the teaparty folks in Tn.he's obviously just greasing the skids for his run for higher office.

March 24, 2010 at 6:50 p.m.
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