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Va. to challenge healthcare initiative

RICHMOND, Va., March 22 (UPI) -- As soon as President Barack Obama signs the healthcare bill into law, Virginia will file a lawsuit challenging it, the state attorney general said Monday.

"The Office of the Attorney General of Virginia will move forward with our lawsuit against the federal government and its unconstitutional overreach of its authority with the passage of the federal healthcare bill," Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement.

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The House passed the healthcare bill Sunday. Obama is scheduled to sign the bill Tuesday.

Cuccinelli said the state will challenge the bill on two grounds. First, he said, the federal initiative conflicts with Virginia state bill -- expected to be signed into law this week by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell -- that would shield its citizens from a government mandate to buy health insurance. Second, he said the bill overreaches federal authority under interstate commerce laws by forcing people to buy health coverage or pay a fine.

"We contend that if a person decides not to buy health insurance, that person -- by definition -- is not engaging in commerce, and therefore, is not subject to a federal mandate," Cuccinelli said. "Just being alive is not interstate commerce."

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Ten other states plan to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the bill, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said Monday.

Speaking at a news conference, McCollum, a Republican, said attorneys general from Alabama, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington would join him in filing the suit. All of the attorneys general in those states are Republicans, but McCollum denied the legal challenge is motivated by partisan politics, CNN reported.

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