Mississippi not officially in health care lawsuit

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – A spokesman for Gov. Haley Barbour said Wednesday that Mississippi has not officially entered into the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new federal health care legislation, but it is only a matter of time.
Barbour has asked Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to file a lawsuit on behalf of the state. Hood said he is studying the issue.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum filed one of the first lawsuits challenging the bill passed recently by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama. Turner said when the Florida lawsuit is amended, Mississippi will join.
“At that time – or at any time before then – if Attorney General Hood wants to represent the people of Mississippi, that will be fine,” said Barbour spokesman Dan Turner. “If he chooses not to, then Gov. Barbour will.”
The lawsuits filed by numerous states have challenged – at least in part – whether the federal government can mandate people have health insurance.
An Associated Press story cites McCollum as saying Wednesday that Mississippi is one of five states that will join the lawsuit. That will bring to 18 the number of states suing over the new health care law.
Hood has said state law prevents the governor from filing suit until the attorney general decides whether he wants to sue.
Hood, the only statewide elected Democrat in Mississippi, said he had members of his staff and constitutional experts at the state’s universities studying the legislation.
The legislation was passed by Democrats in Congress and opposed by Republicans.

Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@djournal.com.