Department of Law Determines Alaska Not Required to Follow Health Care Legislation

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

The Department of Law has advised Governor Sean Parnell that Alaska is not required to follow the national Health Care legislation that went into effect last year.

The governor plans to follow that advice.

Last month, a Florida federal district court found the act unconstitutional, and Attorney General-designee John Burns told House and Senate Judiciary Committees Monday that he has advised the governor that – unless overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court – the Florida decision is binding in Alaska.

Burns argues the decision leaves compliance up to the states.

But Senate Judiciary Chairman Hollis French disagreed with Burns’ advice, saying that without an injunction from the Florida Court, or a confirming opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court, the decision leaves the law in place.

The governor’s staff says in an e-mail response, “The governor will not implement a law that has been ruled unconstitutional. He is committed to working to find ways to increase accessibility and improve affordability of health care for Alaskans.”

The Florida case has not yet been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, however the Justice Department – and the state’s challenging the law – have indicated that a national decision is needed.

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