Kinder, Blunt laud Florida ruling against federal health care changes
Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, one of the state's most outspoken opponents of the federal health care changes, said this afternoon that he's encouraged by the latest judicial ruling -- this one out of Florida -- asserting that the federal law is unconstitutional.
"This is an expected ruling,'' Kinder (left)Â acknowledged in a telephone interview this afternoon, as he discussed the Florida ruling, which involves a suit brought by 26 states challenging the federal law.
Still, he added, "Today's decision is yet another victory against the overstepping and overreach of Obamacare.... As I await a ruling on my lawsuit in Missouri, I am encouraged by today's decision and the further support it gives to the claims of Missourians against Obamacare."
Florida Judge Roger Vinson ruled today that the entire federal health care law is unconstitutional because of the provision requiring most Americans to purchase private insurance. Earlier, a Virginia judge also ruled that the mandate was unconstitutional -- but he did not broaden that decision to include the entire law.
Both judges declined, however, to block implementation of the law -- allowing it to continue to be put in place, even as the legal battles continue.
Because two other judges have ruled that the law is constitutional, Kinder said it's clear that the real battle over the federal health care changes will take place in the various federal appeals courts.
That includes the St. Louis-based 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, where Kinder expects his own suit to be debated.
Kinder's suit, filed last summer, is now before a lower-court judge in St. Louis. After back-and-forth motions filed by Kinder's lawyer and the U.S. Justice Department, Kinder is awaitingÂ a ruling. He has no idea when the judge may announce a decision.
HisÂ suit includes five Medicare recipients who contend in the suit that they will be harmed by the federal law's phaseout of the Medicare Advantage option, which is more costly for the government.
As part of a deal with Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, Kinder's suit includes language that makes it clear he's challenging the federal law as an individual, not as a representative of the state of Missouri.
Kinder -- who is expected to launch aÂ 2012 bid for governor later this year --Â said that he does plan to submit today's 78-page Florida ruling "as supplemental'' to his side's own legal arguments. "We believe it is persuasive,'' Kinder said.
Meanwhile, Koster (right)Â also may feel more political heat from today's ruling, since Republicans controlling the state House and Senate have passed resolutions pressing him to join the Florida or Virginia suit, or file one of his own on Missouri's behalf.
So far, Koster -- a former Republican turnedÂ Democrat --has made no public comment about today's ruling.
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., issued a statement this afternoon that is in line with Kinder, and indicated that this latest ruling may be used by congressional critics of the new law. The GOP-controlled U.S. House has passed a measure calling for its repeal, but Democrats controlling the Senate are blocking any vote. President Barack Obama also opposes any repeal of the measure, a cornerstone of his administration's legislative achievements.
Said Blunt: ""Today's ruling in Florida marked the second federal judge to agree with Missourians and deem the individual mandate unconstitutional. We need to replace this law with a commonsense approach that will lower health care costs, improve coverage, and encourage private sector job growth. I look forward to voting to repeal this bill on the Senate floor as soon as possible."Â