Hillary Clinton’s push for health care reform during her husband’s presidency could help Texas and 19 other states suing the federal government stop the current health care reform bill, Texas Attorney Greg Abbott said on Thursday.
Abbott said the he felt “pretty good” that the coalition of states would triumph, partly due to concerns raised during what he called “HillaryCare” in the 1990s.
“The issue about an individual mandate violating the Commerce Clause was actually first raised back in the time of HillaryCare, and it was picked up once again in the beginning stages of ObamaCare,” Abbott said during a panel discussion hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “These aren’t novel legal theories and this isn’t the first time that Congress has been warned about the possibility.”
The new legislation is scheduled to cost Texas $25 billion in its first 10 years of implementation, Abbott said — a figure that differs wildly from estimates released by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office.
Abbott said Congress is banking on the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution to prove it has the authority to issue an "individual mandate' that requires everyone to buy health insurance. The clause gives the government the power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”
“The Commerce Clause may allow Congress to regulate commerce but it doesn’t allow Congress to force Americans to buy things they don’t want. If Congress can force you to buy insurance there is no limit to what they can force you to buy,” Abbott said.
The Attorney General said another promising sign is that, despite the federal government’s expansion of what it includes in the Commerce Clause, the Supreme Court has issued decisions that have struck down legislation passed by Congress as a violation of the clause twice in 15 years.
“There is a growing movement among the Supreme Court justices, and among courts in general, to understand that there must be some limit to congressional power, and I can assure you that if there is any limit to congressional power it will be the limits established in this health care mandate,” he said.
Because a team of legal professionals has committed to pursuing the lawsuit “largely for free” he said, Texas could likely spend less than $10,000 battling Congress.
“A $5,000, $6,000 or $7,000 tab in an effort to save $25 billion is a pretty good return on investment,” he concluded.