OMAHA -- Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said Monday the federal health care reform bill violates the U.S. Constitution and that his state will join others in challenging the Democrat-backed measure.
"It tramples on individual liberty and dumps on the states the burden of an unfunded mandate that taxpayers cannot afford," said Bruning, who is also president of the National Association of Attorneys General.
Bruning, a Republican, said he believes the reform bill would violate the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause by mandating that all Americans have some form of health insurance.
"This is the first time in American history where American citizens will be forced to buy a particular good or service," he said.
Bruning said Americans ought to be able to opt not to buy health insurance if they choose.
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Republican attorneys general in several other states joined Bruning Monday in vowing to challenge the health care overhaul in court as soon as President Barack Obama signs the bill. Other states were weighing whether to join such a lawsuit.
Obama may sign the legislation as early as Tuesday, and Bruning said the states' lawsuit will likely be filed in federal court in Florida's northern district.
"Reform of the health care system is a noble goal, but this bill is the wrong way to go about it," Bruning said.
Nebraska's Republican Gov. Dave Heineman said Monday he supported the legal challenge to the bill, and he reiterated his criticism about its costs.
Heineman's spokeswoman, Jen Rae Hein, said the governor is concerned about proposed cuts to Medicaid and the increased taxes and premiums Nebraska residents will have to pay as a result of the bill.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers considered trying to create a stumbling block for health care reform, but their plan appears unlikely to pass.
State Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha proposed an amendment to the Nebraska Constitution (LR289CA) to prohibit the state from forcing people to buy health insurance or fining people for not obtaining insurance.
But that measure remains in committee, and it is unlikely to advance because less than a month remains in this year's session.
At the time he introduced it, McCoy acknowledged that his proposal wasn't likely to block federal health care reform, but he said it could have helped set up a court challenge.
Similar legislation was proposed in at least 36 other states, and Idaho adopted its version of the bill earlier this month.