Rep. Linville: New rules on AG’s office will not affect ‘business in general’ but would prevent healthcare lawsuit spending
Yesterday, I linked to a Tacoma News Tribune piece that highlighted the fact that House Democrats, led by House Ways & Means Chairwoman Kelli Linville, D-Bellingham, sought to restrict Attorney General Rob McKenna from partaking in a multi-state legal challenge to the healthcare reform legislation.
The Democrats directed the Office of Financial Management to strip McKenna’s office from an exemption on state spending for certain contracts for hiring outside legal help and other work when needed.
Today, Linville called me to tell me the exemption is going to be reinstated, but with new provisions.
“The main thing is we don’t want to interrupt how he is doing his business in general,” Linville siad. “This isn’t about the attorney general, this is about a decision he made that doesn’t have legislative or gubernatorial support.”
The new exemption would allow McKenna’s office the ability to spend when necessary, but it would require his office to request approval from Gov. Chris Gregoire’s administration to pursue any kind of legal action based on healthcare reform.
“I feel perfectly comfortable with that,” Linville said. “Again, It’s not about the attorney general, it’s about a specific action the attorney general took. There are other things he’s done that I think we wouldn’t probably have a problem.”
To follow up, I also asked Rep. Linville about her thoughts on the constitutional argument taking place about the legislation.
“Interstate commerce has been defined very broadly,” she said.
She also said she saw on the news that at least one attorney general filing suit is using the legal battle as part of his campaign fundraising efforts.
“I don’t know if there is a serious attempt, or a political attempt,” she said. “I would be more comfortable if it was serious and he discussed it with the governor.
“I think this state will benefit from this law that was passed and I don’t want to single ourselves out,” she said, in terms of losing out on reimbursements for senior’s prescription drug costs, the ban on preventing coverage due to pre-existing conditions and more.
But can the state afford the legislation, especially newly enrolled Medicaid patients?
“Actually for me I couldn’t specifically answer that. It’s a concern that we be able to find the matching funds to afford this, on the other hand we’re putting together a full task force in the interim to examine all aspects of healthcare reform,” she said.
The taskforce will assess what the cost will be to the state “and how we manage that cost and what the benefits are going to be.”
“It’s a very complicated bill and we’re leaving it up to our healthcare committee to map out what questions are going to be asked,” she said.