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AG questions constitutionality of health-care bill

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Not only would federal health-care legislation significantly cost Indiana if passed, the state's Attorney General also believes aspects of the legislation could be constitutionally questioned and possibly overturned by courts.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller issued a 55-page report today studying the constitutionality of the U.S. Senate-created health-care bill and what its impact might be on Indiana. The in-house research and drafted report comes a month after some of Indiana's congressional delegation asked the state agency to review provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act under Indiana Code 4-6-8-2 that allows this specific review if requested.

If the legislation is passed, the AG has determined that Indiana would bear substantial economic costs - roughly about $500,000 more added to the Medicaid rolls - and create unintended consequences for patients, taxpayers, and the state's medical-device industry.

Legally, the report notes that some provisions could be struck down in a court challenge:

· The bill's "individual mandate" requiring everyone to buy health insurance or face a penalty would be unprecedented; never before has the federal government required Americans to purchase any good or service, nor has it regulated inactivity.

· The bill's "Nebraska Compromise" amendment would expand the number of Medicaid participants in all states but fully fund the expansion for Nebraska only, while the other 49 states would have to absorb additional costs. While courts are properly reluctant to second-guess legislative deal making, such disparate treatment of one state appears to violate Article I of the U.S. Constitution, the report says.

· The bill would also require states to create insurance "exchanges" and require for-profit health insurers to offer certain types of coverage, making private insurers essentially highly regulated entities similar to public utilities, the report says. Before insurance exchanges are available, states would have to administer a temporary reinsurance program for high-risk patients. That mandatory obligation on the part of state officials might be found unconstitutional, according to the report.

The full report can be viewed online.

While passed by the Senate Dec. 24, the health-care proposal remains pending in Congress and the Indiana Attorney General's Office report is being offered for legislators to consider as that process continues.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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