Hillsborough County Commissioners voice support for Bill McCollum's lawsuit to throw out health care law

Commissioner Kevin White said he couldn't back Norman's suggestion, calling it a little big "premature" at this date.

Kevin Beckner was more vocal.  He said from the legal scholars he's heard from, McCollum's legal challenge doesn't have much of  a chance in succeeding.   "I haven't heard anything to the contrary, whether it's on Fox News or somewhere else," he said, referring to the conservative cable news network.  "To me it appears to be a great deal of political theater that is being orchestrated in this election year."

Beckner added that caring for the uninsured is what drives up health care costs and "I'm not an expert on the health care bill, but I do know we need reform. "  Beckner said he did believe in looking into what the costs might mean in terms of a Medicaid match, but said that it's unclear how it would impact the county.

The final vote was 4-2, with Commissioner Rose Ferlita absent.

Although a recent majority of Floridians surveyed said they opposed Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum from pursuing a lawsuit that would stop the federal health care legislation from going into effect, that majority was not reflected this morning at the Hillsborough County Commission.

On a party line basis, three Republicans on the Commission - Al Higginbotham, Mark Sharpe and Ken Hagan- joined the fourth,  Jim Norman, to send a letter in support of the AG's quest, which has now 19 other states attorneys general joining in on as well.

"I believe this is a socialism takeover", Norman said in calling for the board to be on record with supporting McCollum's move.  "It's a terrible takeover bill and I applaud McCollum and his efforts."

Norman made his comments after hearing from Dave Rogoff, director of the county's  health and human services department, who said that when the bill goes into effect in 2014, the expansion of Medicaid benefits will double the amount of local beneficiaries, currently estimated at about 144,000.

McCollum's lawsuit, filed nearly a month ago, says that the commerce clause does not permit, and has no precedent for permitting, Congress to mandate citizens engage in an economic transaction such as purchasing a government approved health insurance policy.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe said he found some merit in McCollum's challenge and seconded the motion.

But just like the national debate has been divided by political party, so it was at the local level, as both Democrats on the board dissented.

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