Lt. Governor Peter Kinder has filed a lawsuit, claiming that the federal healthcare law approved by Congress violates the constitutional rights of Missourians.

Kinder, a Republican, pushed in late March for Missouri to join other states in challenging the law in court. Governor Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster, both Democrats, refused. Kinder then announced that he would challenge the law enacted by Congress in court. Kinder, along with three Missourians, filed a lawsuit at the United States Court House in Cape Girardeau Wednesday morning.

Each of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit targets a specific aspect of federal healthcare. Julie Keathley of Stoddard County claims in the suit that the federal law will impose a penalty on Missouri, because the legislature requires insurance companies cover autism while the federal law does not. Keathley’s eight year old son, Mason, suffers from Autism. Dale Morris, a senior citizen from St. Louis County, is suing because federal law will end her eligibility for Medicare Advantage while allowing some individuals in Florida to stay enrolled in the program. Samantha Hill, a single woman from Johnson County, objects to mandates that she purchase full insurance coverage, preferring to purchase catastrophic coverage.

Kinder says each claims a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Kinder also claims that the law forces an unfunded mandate on Missouri, which could wreck the state’s fragile budget.

He dismisses charges by critics that as the top elective Republican challenging a law enacted by a Democratic Congress, he’s simply playing politics.

“They may say that,” Kinder reacted. “I’m out to vindicate important rights that all Missourians have and that they’re losing under this law. What critics say is just so much hot air. It doesn’t matter to me.”

Kinder states simply that federal health care carves out special deals for certain states, triggering unequal treatment of Americans.

Missouri Democrats were quick to put out a press release criticizing Kinder. Democrats charge that Kinder is trying to block health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of Missourians and has resisted calls to disclose who is paying the legal bills.

Kinder turns around the criticism. He asserts that Democrats haven’t disclosed who is bankrolling an effort to block a vote on federal health care next month. The legislature approved a measure that would protect any Missourian not participating in the federal system from penalties if they choose not to purchase health insurance. It would have to be approved by voters on August 3rd to become law. A lawsuit has been filed that would throw the issue off the August ballot.

“Now, what do they fear about Missourians having their say?” Kinder asks. “I have said this (Wed) morning at the press conference; I’ll disclose my donors when they disclose theirs.”

Kinder says he will disclose donors soon. A spokesman for the Lt. Governor said that private contributions to Health Care in Action, Inc. have totaled more than $5,000 from well over 100 donors. Kinder formed the non-profit corporation to pay for the civil action. The lawsuit is private. The spokesman says no taxpayer money is being used.

Federal lawsuit filed by Lt. Governor Peter Kinder [PDF file]

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1:40 MP3]

AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder [8 min MP3]