Jackson, MS (Governor's Office)--Governor Haley Barbour has notified the Mississippi Attorney General that Mississippi will join the multi-state, bi-partisan lawsuit against the healthcare reform law, likely in mid-May.
In a letter delivered today to Attorney General Jim Hood, Governor Barbour dispelled accusations that joining the lawsuit was a hasty decision which would be a useless and expensive endeavor for Mississippi taxpayers.
"My decision to challenge this legislation was not taken lightly or made without thorough consideration," Governor Barbour wrote. "The legislation would prove disastrous for Mississippi's economy, its budget, and its taxpayers who would see their premiums and taxes increased as a result of it. Legal scholars have analyzed the bill and discussed its potential constitutional flaws for at least a year. By now, some twenty states have concluded the law violates the Constitution and have taken steps to challenge it. You are certainly correct that challenging this act will be no easy task, especially as a matter of procedure. Success is uncertain, but I do not intend to ignore my duty simply because of procedural difficulty."
Florida, the lead plaintiff in the case, has reached an agreement with its legal counsel to cap the costs of the litigation at $50,000. Joining in the lawsuit will cost Mississippi a fraction of that amount.
Hood failed to join the lawsuit on behalf of Mississippi, despite repeated requests to do so. The lawsuit is based, in part, on the federal government exceeding its authority by forcing citizens to buy a specific product - in this case, insurance - and controlling the marketplace by determining how the insurance policies will be structured.
Governor Barbour said Michael B. Wallace of Wise Carter, Child and Caraway, P.A., will guide Mississippi's role in the lawsuit, and Wallace has agreed to provide his expertise at no cost to the state.
Mississippi will join the lawsuit once Florida files its amended complaint. That is expected to occur by mid-May.