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Health care lawsuit cost Florida taxpayers $70,000

TALLAHASSEE — Florida's largely unsuccessful challenge of the federal health care law cost state taxpayers $70,000, the state Attorney General's Office said this week.

The total cost of the lawsuit, including appeals, cost much more: $338,827. Those costs were shared among the 25 other states that joined Florida's legal challenge.

Attorney General Pam Bondi continues to herald the legal challenge as a partial victory for Florida even if most of the provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were allowed to stand. Most often, she points to the court's decision that states can opt out of expanding Medicaid to cover more people without losing billions of dollars in existing Medicaid funding.

"For all of those who care about fiscal sanity and protecting the taxpayers of our states, the court's decision on the Medicaid issue was a big win," Bondi said during a speech at an event this month sponsored by conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity.

Florida's total bill, $69,827.21, includes travel and expenses under Attorney General Bill McCollum, who filed the lawsuit immediately after President Barack Obama signed the health care bill into law in March 2010.

In December 2010, Florida and several other states hired the Baker Hostetler law firm at a total cost of $57,000. Later, the coalition of states hired former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement to take the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals and later the Supreme Court for a fee of $250,000.

Under a cost-sharing agreement, the 26 states split the financial burden according to their level of involvement with the case. Nebraska and South Carolina had the second-highest shares, contributing $26,000 each.

Five states are listed as co-plaintiffs but did not lend any money to the cause: Washington, Indiana, Mississippi, Iowa and Kansas. Jenn Meale, a spokeswoman in the Attorney General's Office, said these states either couldn't afford it or were legally restricted from using money for such endeavors.

Tia Mitchell can be reached at tmitchell@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

Health care lawsuit cost Florida taxpayers $70,000 08/14/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 8:20pm]
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