WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Many states are worried that the healthcare reform plan currently winding through the U.S. Congress will usurp their sovereignty and impose more spending to their already stretched budgets.
The plan provides funding to help states through the overhaul of the healthcare industry, which would include requiring Americans to have health insurance and push more people into the Medicaid system for the poor that states and the U.S. government administer.
Some states may sue if the healthcare plan passes, while others are attempting to pass their own laws and constitutional amendments to keep health insurance optional. Below are some of the steps they are taking:
* At least 36 state legislatures are weighing legislation to limit, alter or oppose the federal healthcare reform, and 26 of those are considering amending their state constitutions by ballot. Arizonans will vote on an amendment in November.
* Virginia was the first state to react legislatively, by enacting a statute entitled "health insurance coverage not required."
* Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter signed a bill on Wednesday allowing the state's attorney general to file a lawsuit opposing federal healthcare legislation requiring individuals to buy medical insurance.
* Texas Governor Rick Perry says the plan will cost the Lone Star state $24.3 billion over 10 years, but it is currently not planning to sue. "The goal right now is to keep the bill from passing in the first place," said spokeswoman Allison Castle.
- Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons has written a member of the House of Representatives from Las Vegas asking her to oppose the plan. Governors from Arizona, Minnesota and Utah have also written letters to Congress.
* Utah's two legislative chambers have passed a bill opposing parts of the healthcare plan that now awaits the governor's signature.
- Florida, Georgia and Missouri have begun embarking on constitutional resolutions.
- Massachusetts and Vermont are both in the unique positions of having their own healthcare plans already in place.
- The New Hampshire legislature has passed a bill prohibiting any expansion of Medicaid, the healthcare system for the poor, unless it is paid for by the federal government. The current version of the U.S. plan requires the federal government to cover 100 percent of all new Medicaid enrollees through 2016.
- States not considering legislative responses include Illinois, North Carolina, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts. Also, there are no measures in Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Texas as there are no regular legislative sessions in these states in 2010.
SOURCES: National Conference of State Legislatures, governors' offices (Reporting by Lisa Lambert, Jim Christie in San Francisco, Joan Gralla in New York, Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Kenneth Barry)