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McKenna opposes health care law despite agreeing with parts

The Associated Press
"So, in every 'multi-state' you have the possibility, in fact the likelihood, that there will be specific provisions and arguments that not every state agrees with," McKenna said.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s health-care hearings have put a spotlight on Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna and his decision to join 25 other states in suing the Obama Administration. 

McKenna, a Republican, has said repeatedly for the last two years that he’s not necessarily against all of the Affordable Care Act. KPLU talked to McKenna about how he can support much of the law, but still try to overturn it.

McKenna says he’s ardently against the individual mandate, which says everyone must have health insurance:

"Our key reason for being in the suit is because we think the mandate is an unprecedented expansion of federal power with no limits on it ... I think it's unconstitutional."

The lawsuit McKenna joined was organized by the Attorney General of Florida, and now includes 26 states and is the featured case in front of the Supreme Court.

But, McKenna says he disagrees with Florida about the rest of the law.

The lawsuit explicitly seeks to overturn the entire law. McKenna says:

  • he'd keep some of the consumer protections;
  • he likes the so-called Insurance Exchanges, where we’ll be able to comparison shop online for health coverage; and
  • he even supports expanding the low-income Medicaid program, to cover thousands more adults.

The lawsuit he signed asks for all of that to be repealed--and makes an extended argument against expanding Medicaid.
Q and A

KPLU: Why is it so important for Washington to sign on, if we don’t even agree 100 percent with the suit we’re joining?


"We are involved with lots of multi state litigation. For example, the national mortgage settlement, which I helped craft, now includes 49 states, and believe me, not all those states agreed with every facet of that 'multi-state.' But it's simply a lot more efficient for states to pool their efforts and resources and reach a common settlement. "So, in every 'multi-state' you have the possibility, in fact the likelihood, that there will be specific provisions and arguments that not every state agrees with. But in the greater scheme of things it makes sense for them to participate anyway."

By being involved with the lawsuit led by Florida, McKenna says it’s not costing Washington state any money. And, he argues, it gives Washington a place at the table, in shaping any negotiations.

Of course, there's a chance it could unravel the entire health care law, including the parts he says he likes.

As a voter, you’ll have to ponder McKenna’s choice – because it’s a hot topic in his race for Governor against Democrat Jay Inslee. 

Keith Seinfeld has been KPLU’s Health & Science Reporter since 2001, and prior to that covered the Environment beat. He’s been a staff reporter at The Seattle Times and The News Tribune in Tacoma and a freelance writer-producer. His work has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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