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States Mount Challenges to Health Reform Law

Even as President Obama talks up the new health care reform law at rallies and speeches around the country, opponents of the measure are continuing to work to invalidate it.

State legislators in 38 states have introduced legislation opposing the bill — many did so before the bill even passed the House and Senate. And in the past week, attorneys general in 14 states have filed lawsuits against the federal government challenging its constitutionality. doc_blog_med.jpg

Most of the challenges center around the individual mandate — the provision that would require nearly all Americans to carry health insurance. Most of the proposed state legislation would prohibit an individual mandate, while the lawsuits challenge the mandate’s constitutionality.

Some legal analysts say that the legislative efforts will be moot because federal law will trump state law, and that the attorneys general’s lawsuits also have little chance of success.

“The Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate commerce among the states,” Washington and Lee University law professor Timothy Stoltzfus Jost wrote in a CNN editorial. “The Supreme Court has long held that this authority reaches all economic activity.”

But others disagree. Georgetown University constitutional law professor Randy Barnett wrote in a Washington Post editorial that the reach of the new law is “unprecedented.”

“While Congress has used its taxing power to fund Social Security and Medicare, never before has it used its commerce power to mandate that an individual person engage in an economic transaction with a private company,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, the legislative efforts are encountering mixed success — the laws have passed in Idaho, Utah and Virginia, but have been voted down in nine other states.

“It’s not as if states are moving in lockstep direction,” says Richard Cauchi, of the National Council of State Legislatures. “The one thing that is clear is that by the end of May we’ll know more, because there will only be a dozen states still in session.”

We’ve compiled this chart for details the legislative and legal challenges in each state, along with each state’s uninsured rate.

And the NCSL Web site has a constantly updated chart providing more details on the pending legislation in particular.

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