Roundup: All 50 States Stand Up to Defend Affordable Care Act

As conservative state Attorneys General prepare to take their efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act all the way to Supreme Court arguments this spring, an outpouring of support for the health law from state legislators last week made it clear that those seeking to scuttle health reform are not the only ones speaking for the states. Over 500 state legislators representing all 50 states signed on to an Amicus Brief backing the constitutionality of the mimimum coverage provision of the law that was submitted to the Supreme Court last week, a broad show of support for the ACA coming at the beginning of both a pivotal election year and new legislative sessions which will see many lawmakers address the implementation of state exchanges provided for under the law. 

In addition to the filing of the Amicus Brief, legislators in a number of states held press conferences last week to highlight why they are standing up for the health law.

Here are some state-by-state highlights of the coverage of both the brief and of the events held in state capitals across the nation last week: 

"Forty-three Connecticut lawmakers joined a group of more than 500 legislators in various states who support federal health reform as it faces a legal challenge that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in March... 'We cannot afford to lose the progress already made by giving in to political pressures that in the end will only hurt working families, small businesses and seniors,' said co-chair of the legislature's Public Health Committee, state Rep. Besty Ritter." - Hartford Courant, 1/12
"Georgia Democrats say they will propose a bill creating a healthcare exchange if Republican lawmakers don’t... They also say they’ve filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting Pres. Obama’s healthcare reform law. At a press conference at the state Capitol, Rep. Pat Gardner of Atlanta says Georgia can’t wait for the High Court’s decision. 'We’ll be at the back of the line in terms of applying for federal funds to help set up the exchange,' Gardner said." - Georgia Public Broadcasting News, 1/13
"[IowaLegislators criticized Gov. Terry Branstad today for supporting a lawsuit against the national health-reform effort. Sen. Jack Hatch noted that the governor has vowed to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation, and has accepted millions of dollars of federal grants from the health-reform program. 'He’s sending kind of a two-sided message' Hatch said at a Statehouse press conference attended by about a dozen legislators. 'He wants Iowa to be the healthiest state in America, but then he wants the law that will help us become the healthiest state in America repealed.'" - Des Moines Register, 1/12
"[MaineState Rep. Sharon Treat says she's joining 50 other Maine Democrats and hundreds of legislators across the country in filing a "friend of the court" brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the national health care law. The amicus brief supporting the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is to be filed Friday. Treat, of Hallowell, says she and other lawmakers are joining the lawsuit because they know thousands of people will benefit from the new health law." - Associated Press, 1/13
"More than two dozen Maryland state lawmakers have signed an amicus brief that will be filed in U.S. Supreme Court Thursday in support of President Barack Obama’s health care law. The advisory brief, which also includes signatures from state lawmakers across the country, comes weeks before the high court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the national Affordable Care Act, which is being challenged on several fronts. All of the Maryland lawmakers in support of the law are Democrats.  “People are going to be at our emergency room doors in Maryland if they don’t have the coverage that they would have under the federal law,” said Baltimore Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg, who signed the brief." - Baltimore Sun, 1/12
"More than 50 [Minnesota] lawmakers have signed on to an advisory brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the federal health care law. DFLers say the law's provisions are already baked into state policy and finances. Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, said $125 million of the surplus in the November state budget forecast is due to policy changes from the federal health care overhaul. 'The tenuous budget balancing act that we've got going on right now is going to be upended if we don't proceed with the implementation,' she said." - Minnesota Public Radio News, 1/12
"Three dozen Missouri House Democrats have joined state lawmakers from around the country urging the Supreme Court to uphold the Obama administration's health insurance law. The Missourians are among 518 state legislators from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico who submitted a brief on Thursday arguing that mandating health insurance for all Americans is within the power of Congress. 'Stated simply, the framers of our founding charter came to the drafting table with the aim of giving the federal government power to provide national solutions to national problems,' their advisory brief read." -  St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/13
"A group of 10 New Mexico lawmakers has joined 480 state legislators from 50 states in signing a friend of the court brief supporting the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The brief is being filed as the Supreme Court prepares to consider a constitutional challenge to the controversial health law. Sen. DeDe Feldman says the state has received more than $136 million to support health care in New Mexico as a result of the law." - Associated Press, 1/12
"More than 20 New York state legislators have joined about 450 state legislators from across the country to sign a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the constitutionality of the federal Affordable Care Act. 'The challenge to the Affordable Care Act now before the Supreme Court has a lot more to do with politics than with the Constitution,' said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried. 'The Affordable Care Act has been upheld by judges from across the ideological spectrum, and it is working for families across the country.'" - Daily Gazette, 1/11
"Greensboro Reps. Alma Adams and Pricey Harrison are two of the 30 North Carolina legislative Democrats who have signed on to an amicus brief supporting the Affordable Care Act in a suit that is before the U.S. Supreme Court... According to Rep. Verla Insko, a Chapel Hill Democrat who rounded up the North Carolina signatures, 452 state lawmakers from 48 states have signed onto the brief. The brief was organized by the Progressive States Network and Constitutional Accountability Center, Insko said." - News & Record, 1/11
"Two North Dakota Democratic lawmakers have added their names to a court filing with the U.S. Supreme Court to support the new federal health care law. The Supreme Court will be hearing arguments about whether the law violates the U.S. Constitution. Fargo state Sen. Mathern and Grand Forks state Rep. Eliot Glassheim have signed a brief that argues the health care law is constitutional. Mathern says the brief will be filed with the Supreme Court on Friday. Mathern says the law is one of many examples of federal and state cooperation in health care. He says it has already helped people with medical problems get, and keep, insurance coverage." - Associated Press, 1/11
"Ohio's governor, attorney general and most state Republican elected officials have deep problems with the Affordable Care Act, especially its mandate that nearly all Americans must get health insurance by 2014. Ohio Democrats feel otherwise -- and at least 11 of them are expected to be signatories to a friend-of-the-court brief being filed today at the U.S. Supreme Court. The brief, to be signed by nearly 500 state lawmakers nationwide, according to The Hill, will ask the high court to uphold the federal law." - Cleveland Plain-Dealer, 1/12
"Texas, via its Republican leadership, has already joined the two-dozen other states challenging the constitutionality of federal health care reform before the U.S. Supreme Court. Now, 27 Democratic Texas lawmakers have signed on to try to defend it.  They join some 480 state lawmakers from across the country who are filing briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the measure, which tey believe will expand access to health insurance in places like Texas, where there are currently more than 6 million people without coverage, many of them children. 'My colleagues and I are filing these briefs with the Supreme Court to make sure that we speak up on behalf of our constituents, so that their needs don't fall victim to partisan attempts to knock down this law,' state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said in an email." - Texas Tribune, 1/12
"[Utah] Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck was the lone Utah Democrat to sign a legal document in defense of President Barack Obama’s signature health overhaul. More than 500 lawmakers from all 50 states signed a “friend-of-the-court” brief backing the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, which is being challenged by 26 states in a case now resting with the U.S. Supreme Court. The brief, filed Thursday, was prepared by the Progressive States Network and Constitutional Accountability Center. 'The majority of my constituents support the Affordable Care Act,' said Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City. 'It’s not a black and white issue. There’s work to be done to allow states some autonomy to partner with the federal government in implementing the law... But I find it nerve-wracking that we continue to challenge its most basic elements." - Salt Lake Tribune, 1/12
"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... 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." - Associated Press, 1/13