South Dakota Doctors for America chastised Attorney General Marty Jackley this week for joining in the multi-state lawsuit to block implementation of the new healthcare reform law.
But Jackley isn't backing down.
"The question is whether or not the federal government has gone too far in requiring individuals to purchase a qualifying health care coverage and to have an unfunded federal mandate forced upon the states," Jackley said.
Jackley said both he and Gov. Mike Rounds deemed it in the best interest of the state to join in the lawsuit, brokering a deal with the 20 other states to pay $1,000 in legal fees. North Dakota also pays $1,000 to be part of the suit.
Semi-retired pediatrician Willis Sutliff of Rapid City, a member of South Dakota Doctors for America, sees the lawsuit decision differently.
"I'm incredulous that the state's attorney would try to overcome the healthcare reform" when it moves to cover the 20 percent of Americans who can't afford health insurance, he said. "Every industrialized country in the world except the United States has health care for all of their citizens."
Sutliff said he recognizes that the healthcare reform law has many flaws. But he said the bill can and will be altered and improved over time. The fact that it attempts to cover the uninsured is a step in the right direction.
"It was formed with the specific purpose of trying to get health coverage for everybody in the United States," he said.
As a doctor, Sutliff has seen the effects of not having health insurance.
"Frequently, it's the working poor. The ones who are doing their best, and they are left out of the health care system," he said. When that happens, they put off getting medical care until emergency situations. Then, they seek emergency care, he said.
"This has bad repercussions ... and I think there isn't any doubt it costs more in the long run."
Sutliff said ensuring all Americans get adequate health care is just good sense.
"You can't afford to let 20 percent of your population not get healthcare and become unproductive members of society and become a drag on society," he said.
Jackley questions the legality of a law that requires all Americans to purchase insurance and then passes the added costs of the law onto the states.
"Healthcare is too important of an issue to be built upon an unconstitutional law," he said.
Jackley said a federal judge in the case heard a "motion to dismiss" argument from the federal government on Sept. 14. The judge is expected to make a ruling on that by Oct. 14.
Contact Lynn Taylor Rick at email@example.com or 394-8414.
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