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Health care reform debate not yet over

By Charles Ashby

Just because the health care reform bill has been passed doesn't mean the debate is over.

The talks are likely to continue state by state, including in Colorado. That's party because the state's attorney general, John Suthers, has decided to join a multi-state lawsuit claiming the bill was unconstitutional.

While conservative people will continue to criticize it, others are trying to defend it however they can.

On Monday, Suthers said the measure, particularly the individual mandates to carry health insurance or face a special tax, violates the concept of federalism.

“The individual mandate to purchase insurance or suffer economic sanction violates constitutional principles and lacks constitutional authority,” Suthers said. “The Constitution gives Congress the enumerated powers to regulate those engaged in interstate commerce. It does not give the Congress the power to compel a citizen, who would otherwise choose to be inactive in the marketplace, to purchase a product or service and thereby become subject to congressional regulation. Such an expansion of the current understanding of the Commerce Clause would leave no private sphere of individual commercial decision making beyond the reach of the federal government. It would render the 10th Amendment meaningless.

On Wednesday, Colorado Democratic Party Chairwoman Pat Waak the court system has given wide latitude to Congress to tax and regulate interstate commerce. It is widely agreed upon that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is constitutional, she said.

 “It’s obvious that this is a partisan reelection stunt by John Suthers who is joining only Republican attorney generals in this lawsuit,” Waak said in a statement. “It’s a frivolous lawsuit wasting Colorado’s taxpayer money. He is playing politics with the lives and well-being of Colorado families. Coloradans can’t afford more delays or obstruction—they want reform implemented now.”

Waak is even calling for Suther's to be recalled.

Former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofsky said today the case, filed in federal district court in Florida, stands little chance of success.

"First, there is a significant question whether state attorneys general have standing to challenge the new law, especially when many of its provisions have not yet gone into effect," she said. "Second, Congress has the power -- under both the Commerce Clause and the power to tax -- to impose and enforce a requirement that citizens have health insurance."

Meanwhile, the Washington, D.C.-based Democratic National Committee said today it would being airing television and radio ads in Colorado and elsewhere in the nation praising those lawmakers who voted for the bill, including Eastern Plains congresswoman U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, D-4th.

The ads, however, won't be heard on this side of the Continental Divide even though the Western Slope's congressman, Rep. John Salazar, D-3rd, also voted for the bill. DNC spokesman Derrick Plummer said he couldn't explain why Salazar was not included on the list, but denied it was because the party feared it might hurt his re-election more than help him.

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