Alaska governor refuses health care law

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JUNEAU, Alaska | Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell took an unusually defiant stand against the federal health care overhaul enacted by Congress last year, declaring Thursday that he will refuse to implement a law that he views as blatantly unconstitutional.

Mr. Parnell is the latest Republican governor to lash out against the law as the courts weigh the constitutionality of the overhaul.

At least half of all states, including Alaska, have sued the government over the health care plan pushed by President Obama.

Several analysts say Mr. Parnell is on shaky legal ground and that his comments are little more than symbolic.

The law won’t take full effect until 2015 - just after his first term will have ended - and the constitutionality question will not get settled until the U.S. Supreme Court decides it.

Until then, in Mr. Parnell’s view, the decision by a federal judge in Florida striking down the law as unconstitutional “is the law of the land, as it pertains to Alaska.”

Alaska was one of 26 states party to that case.

In other cases, two federal judges have upheld the law and another judge ruled that a provision requiring citizens to buy health insurance or face penalties - a major point of contention in the Florida case - is unconstitutional but did not strike down the rest of the law.

“This is one renegade judge that has reached this decision,” said Timothy S. Jost, a professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law. He called the opinion “extremist” and likely to be reversed on appeal. In refusing to participate in the law, he said, Alaska “is really the outlier” among states.

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday asked U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson to clarify his order and “confirm that the court did not intend to disrupt the many programs currently in effect, including small business tax credits, the millions of dollars in federal grants awarded to states to help with health care costs, and other ongoing consumer protections while this case is on appeal,” department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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