How much say does Pennsylvania’s Attorney General have over the health care law known as Obamacare? Not much. But he or she will be able to determine the state’s participation in a lawsuit against it. Republican Dave Freed has called out Democratic opponent Kathleen Kane for saying she would withdraw from the suit.
“It’s clear that Kathleen Kane is well outside the mainstream on a number of significant issues that affect Pennsylvania families. But it’s nevertheless striking to hear that she is a staunch supporter of Obamacare — a bill that the clear majority of Pennsylvania voters want overturned,” his campaign said Monday.
The Freed campaign email pointed to an April interview with the Legal Intelligencer, in which Freed and Kane took contrasting sides on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the multiple lawsuits challenging the legislation.
During the interview, Kane said she would withdraw Pennsylvania from the lawsuit against the law.
“I would withdraw Pennsylvania from the lawsuit. I pledge to you now, if I am elected and this lawsuit is still ongoing, by the close of business on my first day in office I will withdraw Pennsylvania from this lawsuit,” she said.
“Health care in this country is broken. Our Constitution affords a criminal the right to an attorney but doesn’t afford a sick child a doctor. That is unconscionable.”
The interview was published on April 17, as Kane faced a heated Democratic primary opponent in former Congressman Patrick Murphy.
Freed took the opposite stance.
“I will continue Pennsylvania’s participation in the lawsuit. Obamacare is an unconstitutional power grab by the federal government and as attorney general, the citizens of Pennsylvania can be assured that I will protect them from such overreaching actions.”
Indeed, his criticism of Obamacare and support for the lawsuit — joined initially by then-AG Tom Corbett during the 2010 campaign — is often one of Freed’s strongest applause lines during appearances in front of GOP groups.
The Freed campaign said Kane’s stance goes against the will of voters, according to a recent Quinnipac poll of swing-state voters in Pennsylvania, in which 46 percent of voters said they thought Congress should try to repeal the health-care law.
“I agree with the solid majority of Pennsylvania voters and wholeheartedly support overturning government-run health care in Pennsylvania,” said Freed.
Without embracing the law itself, Kane Communications Director Josh Morrow called Freed out, saying the lawsuit is a waste of resources.
“At a time when Freed’s political patron, Governor Corbett, is slashing funding for our schools, it’s bizarre that Dave Freed would favor spending the money of Pennsylvania taxpayers on a lawsuit that is going to be litigated ITAL regardless of what Pennsylvania does ITAL instead of focusing the resources of the Attorney-General’s office on cases like protecting seniors from abuse and cracking down on political corruption,” Morrow said.
He also dinged Freed over an apparent typo in the press release, where Freed called on “the state Supreme Court” to overturn the health care law.
“Freed’s lack of knowledge highlights that he’s playing politics instead of making a serious legal argument,” he said.
Freed is currently the District Attorney of Cumberland County, a post he has held since 2005. Kathleen Kane served as an assistant District Attorney in Lackawanna County from 1995 to 2007.