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McCollum orders inquiry into health insurance requirement

Attorney General Bill McCollum has ordered his staff to check the constitutionality of the requirement in the federal health care bill that individuals buy health insurance.

The provision is similar to that of a Massachusetts law enacted in 2006. It requires people to buy coverage or face a stiff penalty -- much like drivers have to buy basic car insurance. That law was championed by Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential aspirant who was then governor of the Bay State.

But McCollum has "grave concerns" about what he dubbed the "living tax."

"It would be levied on a person who does nothing, a person who simply wishes not to be forced to buy health insurance coverage. Upon initial review, this appears to be contrary to the freedoms we, as Americans, have enjoyed for the past 233 years," he said in a release.

McCollum called on other attorneys general to join his inquiry. He also said he will join other states that are looking into the legality of the special deal secured by Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson.

Here's McCollum's letter to other attorneys general: Download HealthCareLetter

UPDATE: Sen. Dan Gelber, the Miami Beach Democrat who is running to take over McCollum's job, issued the following statement in response:

"General McCollum's decision to use his office to investigate ways to block health insurance reform is exactly why we need new leadership in the Attorney General's office. There are four million Floridians without health care including 800,000 children. Only one state has a higher percentage of uninsured.  I wish McCollum was as concerned about solving Florida's health care crisis as he was about stopping the solving of the health care crisis. This is just another example of why we need fundamental change in Tallahassee."

UPDATE 2: Eric Jotkoff of the Florida Democratic Party has also released a statement criticizing McCollum: "Under McCollum's flawed logic, Americans are 'forced' to have Social Security and Medicare taxes deducted from their paychecks. Is McCollum declaring Social Security and Medicare 'unconstitutional?'

McCollum said that argument does not hold water because those taxes are connected to a specific event -- holding a job.