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EDITORIAL: Health care lawsuit noncore costs to the state

In the months since Congress approved hotly-contested health care reform legislation, Wyomingites have grappled with how to respond to the federal law.

Gov. Dave Freudenthal has said Wyoming would not join other states in a lawsuit opposing the law. But gubernatorial candidates have said they believe the Cowboy State should challenge President Obama's health care reform.

Three GOP candidates represented at a rally at the state Capitol Friday said they think Wyoming should oppose the federal law by joining 20 other states in litigation.

The rally's organizer, M. Lee Hasenauer of Cheyenne, is petitioning to urge state lawmakers to hold a special legislative session this summer to address federal health-care reform.

But a special session is unnecessary, considering Wyoming lawmakers have plenty of time to respond to the new health care reform. It will be years before most provisions in the new law take effect.

Gathering legislators for a special session is expensive — a 20-day session would cost an estimated $500,000. If lawmakers then proceeded with litigation, state taxpayers would foot the bill.

Whether Wyoming spends its money on legal battles isn't going to change how the Supreme Court's decision impacts the state. Any Supreme Court ruling on the health-care lawsuit will affect all states — regardless of their role in the suit.

“I think Congress is wrong, but what I think doesn't matter. The people who matter are the nine people on the United States Supreme Court. I think it'll get litigated vigorously. I do not think we add to it,” Freudenthal said in March.

Wyoming's next governor likely will disagree. And when state legislators convene for their regular session in January, they may decide to seek legal action against the federal health-care reform.

Though Cowboy State lawmakers could still join the multi-state lawsuit, it seems like an unnecessary move and a waste of money when the litigation's outcome will affect Wyoming anyway.

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