Updated 5:56 p.m. 3/22
JUNEAU, Alaska - Gov. Sean Parnell calls newly passed federal health care legislation unconstitutional and "public policy at its worst." His attorney general is reviewing the measure to determine if the state may join others in suing over the issue, though a Department of Law spokesman cautioned against a rush to judgment.
No timeline was given Monday for Dan Sullivan's completion of the review, which Parnell first requested earlier this year. Department of Law spokesman Bill McAllister said the office comes to the process with no preconceived ideas about what it might find or what it might ultimately recommend to Parnell.
McAllister said the law department plans to study concerns raised by other states, along with legal analyses by groups in support of or opposition to the health care legislation, and doesn't want to rush the review or reach any "premature conclusions."
In a statement released Sunday, after the U.S. House vote on the overhaul, Parnell said he was concerned about how the bill will affect state residents.
"For the many Alaskans currently unable to afford insurance, this legislation will do nothing but require that they purchase health insurance," he said. "This bill will increase insurance premiums and do very little to ensure that patients have access to needed health care professionals."
The news release also stated that Parnell shared the view of many Americans, that "forcing" people into a health care plan they don't want, and the country can't afford, is unconstitutional. A Parnell spokeswoman said it was Parnell's "personal opinion."
The analysis also will have to be balanced with the other work the department is involved in, McAllister said. That includes litigation related to the Endangered Species Act and work on oil and gas issues.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers are weighing whether to revamp a now dated resolution that had urged Alaska's congressional delegation to vote against the current federal health care legislation. A vote in the state House was delayed last week because the speaker said there weren't enough members to vote on it.