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MIAMI (AFP) - In a sign of political battles to come, 14 US states filed lawsuits Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of health care reform just moments after President Barack Obama signed it into law.
Other states are expected to join the fight against the far-reaching reforms which could place huge burdens on state budgets. Many are also considering legislation to block a provision which requires most people to buy insurance or pay a fine.
"This lawsuit should put the federal government on notice that Florida will not permit the constitutional rights of our citizens and the sovereignty of our state to be ignored or disregarded," said Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.
McCollum, a Republican who is running for state governor in the upcoming election, said the federal government had no right to impose a "tax on living" by forcing people to buy insurance.
The historic 940-billion-dollar overhaul will extend coverage to some 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured, ensuring 95 percent of US citizens under age 65 will have health insurance.
The lawsuit filed in a Florida federal court calls the reform bill an "unprecedented encroachment" on state sovereignty by requiring states to spend billions on expanding health care coverage to the poor.
"This is not a partisan issue," he told reporters. "It's a question for most of us in the states of the cost it is to our people and to the rights and freedoms of the individual citizens."
That was the first thing that was filed by a group to be challenged in the Supreme court Monday after the bill was passed.