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Eastside legislator challenges national health care bill

State Sen. Cheryl Pflug, (R-Maple Valley), is among 16 state senators challenging the new national health care bill.

Last week, Pflug signed a letter to Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna in support of his decision to join a nationwide, bipartisan group of attorneys-general in questioning the consitutionality of the health reform package, signed into law last week.

“Our caucus has long sought to ensure all Washingtonians have access to high-quality, affordable health care while maintaining our commitments to the vulnerable, working poor and elderly. Over the years we have introduced legislation to accomplish this goal,” the letter stated.

“We believe that the future of our government ‘of the people and by the people’ is in peril when any group sees fit to suspend the constitution and laws in service of their own agenda. …It is vital that our courts address these fundamental constitutional concerns prior to the full implementation of the legislation. We are convinced that a legally sound approach to health reform will be more successful and will better serve our fellow citizens over the long term.”

Washington Senate Republicans have introduced several bills since the beginning of this year’s regular legislative session, which they say will protect Washington residents from possible unconstitutional provisions of the new federal health care plan.

Senate Bill 6535, the Washington State Health Care Freedom Act of 2010, would protect employers and workers who refuse to participate in nationalized healthcare from possible fines and penalties. Sponsored by Sen. Janéa Holmquist, R-Moses Lake, it would also nullify in Washington any federal law, rule, order or other act by the federal government violating the provisions of the bill.

If approved by voters, Senate Joint Memorial 8220, sponsored by Sen. Val Stevens, R-Arlington, would put these same protections into Washington’s constitution.

Also last week, Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, introduced Senate Bill 6890, which would prohibit a federal mandate on Washington citizens to purchase health care.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Patty Murray applauded the passage of the health care reform bill, which was signed into law on Tuesday.

She touted its role in ensuring that senior citizens have access to affordable prescription drugs.

“Passage ensures that seniors in Washington state will be able to stop worrying about falling into the ‘donut hole’ and not being able to afford the prescription drugs they need to stay healthy,” Murray said. “Health insurance reform is going to help families and small business owners in Washington state in so many way starting this year. Today’s passage is just one more step toward lower premiums, more choices, and the health care security and stability our families deserve.”

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