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Local lawmakers’ reaction to ruling on health care reform

OLYMPIA – Washington state officials were divided on a judge’s ruling that the federal health care reform law is unconstitutional, just as they were divided on whether the law was good or bad for the state.

Attorney General Rob McKenna, who added Washington to the lawsuit when it was filed last spring, called it a victory for individual and states’ rights. “While we all recognized the vital need to access health care services in our country, forcing all U.S. citizens to buy a commercial product in the private market is an unprecedented and unconstitutional move by the federal government,” he said.

• Gov. Chris Gregoire , who has her own state-sponsored attorney fighting on behalf of keeping the law, said the ruling could cost seniors more for checkups and end their discounts for prescriptions, let insurance companies deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and knock college students under 26 off their parents’ medical insurance. “Individuals who can afford to get a benefit but are unwilling to pay their fair share for the cost of that benefit are getting something for nothing, and the rest of society is subsidizing them,” she said.

• State Rep. Joe Schmick , of Colfax, the ranking Republican on the House Health Care Committee, said the state should find its own health care solution in the wake of the judge’s ruling and not tie programs to the federal law. “It would be irresponsible for our state to spend any more state resources on implementation of a federal law that may never go into effect.”

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers called the ruling pivotal in House Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace a law “that will erode the freedom of the American individual.”

Jim Camden, staff writer