Virginia

This article is part of the State Status and News series related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says he is in a unique position to challenge recently passed federal health care reform legislation.

Cuccinelli did not join in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by 13 state attorneys general after President Barack Obama, but instead elected to file a suit of his own. He says Virginia law prevents the federal government from being able to require Virginians purchase health insurance.

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Cuccinelli's seven-page complaint is 16 pages shorter than the one filed by his colleagues in Florida federal court.

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O'Brien, John. “Cuccinelli Says Virginia Law Prevents Health Insurance Mandate”. LegalNewsline. March 24, 2010. Available online as of 2010-04-06.

Democratic leaders have slammed the effort by 14 states to bring lawsuits against health care reform as “frivolous,” a waste of taxpayer money, and a political gambit by media-hungry state officials. But some vulnerable Dems who supported health care reform can't afford to be so scathing. Take Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), who describes these legal efforts as “an appropriate gesture,” even while maintaining his own support for the health care law.

In a telephone town hall meeting with constituents last Wednesday, Perriello tried to assure irate callers that he didn't dispute Virginia's right to challenge the Affordable Care Act in court. “I support [the state's] right to bring it,” Perriello told incensed constituents, referring to the lawsuit led by state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. “I know some think it's a waste of taxpayer money, but…it's why it's appropriate to have an independent judicial branch.”

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Likewise, Sen. Ben Nelson—another Democrat under attack in his home state of Nebraska for supporting health reform—has also welcomed the challenges to the law, according to a state paper.

Both Democrats are trying to take the edge off the Tea Party hysteria without ceding any ground on the merits of reform. That's a delicate balancing act—one that suggests that Dems defending conservative-leaning seats see their health care vote as a serious cause for concern as the elections approach.

Khimm, Suzy. “Dem Rep. Perriello: Health Care Lawsuits Are 'Appropriate'”. Mother Jones. April 12, 2010. Available online as of 2010-04-12.