Rep. Lisa P. Tomasso (D-Dist. 29, Coventry, West Greenwich) has submitted a letter to Barth E. Bracy, executive director of Rhode Island Right To Life (RIRTL), in support of the organization’s lawsuit against the governor for the creation of the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange through executive order last year.
“I just want to be on record saying I support this lawsuit, not because of my opinion of the federal health care law, but because I believe the governor may have gone outside his scope of power when he issued that executive order. This is a constitutional issue, not a health care issue,” the representative said.
In her letter to the RIRTL executive director, Representative Tomasso noted: “After reading through the complaint, it is obvious that although RIRTL clearly has an alternate motivation for legally pursuing Governor [Lincoln] Chafee’s executive order establishing the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange, the complaint is nearly predicated on a violation of the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island Separation of Powers. For this reason alone, every member of the General Assembly should be co-plaintiffs in the complaint.”
Attorney Joseph S. Larisa Jr. filed the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the executive order on behalf of RIRTL in December. A Health Benefits Exchange serves as a marketplace for Rhode Islanders and small businesses to purchase health care coverage and claim federal tax credits in accordance with the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Congress passed in 2010. One of the problem areas for RIRTL is the organization’s strong belief that the General Assembly should be deciding the issue because it involves government funding for abortions.
Regardless of Representative Tomasso’s pro-choice stance, she stressed in her letter that “we must adhere to the process established by the people to carry out our governmental duties.” The lawsuit claims the governor’s actions circumvented state lawmakers and are responsible for giving the health care exchange an alarming amount of power, including authorization to enter into contracts and handle a heavy flow of incoming and outgoing funds.