Wash. Democrats ask court to uphold Obama’s health plan

THURSDAY, JAN. 12, 2012, 3:24 P.M.

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A group of Democratic lawmakers in Washington state asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

About 30 members of the Legislature filed a legal brief, joining other lawmakers from around the country. They also criticized Republican attorney general Rob McKenna for challenging the law in court, with Sen. Adam Kline arguing that McKenna should have consulted with the governor or relevant health care leaders.

“He was not elected for his thinking on health care policy,” Kline said.

McKenna believes the health care law is unconstitutional because of a requirement that individuals without health insurance must purchase private insurance or face a fine. Supreme Court justices will hear arguments on the case in late March, with an outcome expected in late June.

The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously last year that McKenna has the authority to lead the state into a challenge against the health law, and McKenna’s office said he has not joined cost-sharing efforts in the multi-state case because some state leaders disagreed with it. Gov. Chris Gregoire is separately telling the courts that the health law is beneficial.

One federal appeals court has struck down the so-called individual mandate while two others upheld the law.

Democratic Sen. Karen Keiser said the individual mandate was a key component of the law. It is designed to prevent people who lack insurance from passing along the costs of their care to others.

Democrats also said other parts of the law are important for state residents, such as rules allowing young adults to stay on their insurance and rules that prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people with existing medical conditions or increase their premiums.

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