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Indiana is joining 13 other states filing suit to challenge the recently passed health care reform law. Monday afternoon, Attorney General Greg Zoeller said it was never a matter of if Indiana would join the suit, but when.

“It’s more than symbolic,” said Zoeller, who explained that he’s joining the legal challenge because he thinks the federal government is overstepping its authority.

When the $938 billion bill passed, Zoeller said he was concerned it might infringe on state and individual rights.

The lawsuit was filed seven minutes after President Barack Obama signed the overhaul bill Tuesday. It names the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Pensacola, Florida. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is taking the lead in the lawsuit. Attorneys general from South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alabama, South Dakota, Louisiana, Idaho, Washington and Colorado are also joining in.

“I believe that it’s in the best interest of all and that includes those people who support the new legislation that we raise the constitutional questions that are apparent to the United States Supreme Court,” said Zoeller.

The main question: Does the federal government have the right to force states to participate in the program and make citizens purchase health insurance?

The attorney general’s office received hundreds of phone calls and e-mails, most in opposition to the healthcare reform law. But Zoeller says his decision to join the lawsuit is not about caving in to public pressure but about doing the right thing.

“The sovereignty of state government is really in question here,” he said.

Last week Governor Daniels was drowned by applause as he spoke about Zoeller joining the multi-state suit.

“It’s his call ultimately but I sure think it’s the appropriate thing to do. In the meantime we will have to proceed under the assumption that it won’t be successful,” said Daniels.

Zoeller says politics did not factor into his decision.

“In this case, it is unfortunate that the entire subject matter has been politicized but I’ll point out, I think that was done in Washington,” said Zoeller.

Unknown cost

Once Indiana joins in, Zoeller says the 14 states that will then be plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in a federal court in Florida will split the costs of the legal challenge. He says it’s unclear how much Indiana’s share of that bill will be.

Congressman André Carson statement

“I have great respect for our Attorney General Greg Zoeller, but I completely disagree with his decision to join a suit challenging the new health reform law.

The Constitution gives broad authority to Congress to regulate activities that substantially impact interstate commerce, and this authority has been further defined and strengthened through case law via the U.S. Supreme Court. There is no question our health care system affects our national economy-it accounts for nearly 16 percent of our GDP.

Furthermore, the new law’s requirement for shared responsibility among people to carry health coverage is similar to many state laws requiring auto insurance. The health reform law simply uses the tax code to incentivize Americans to have health insurance to prevent passing on their emergency medical costs to the broader tax base.

The fact is we’ve had this debate for more than a year, and I believe the American people and Hoosiers are growing tired of the continuous political posturing on this topic.

Our state leaders should be focused on ensuring every Hoosier can take full advantage of these historic enhancements to our health care system-not wasting taxpayer money to fight and eliminate these health benefits for small businesses, middle-class families and seniors.”

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