36 States to opt out of mandatory Obamacare
by Chelsea Schilling
At least 36 state legislatures are considering legislation that would allow citizens to opt out of a key component of Barack Obama’s health-care “reform” – an “individual mandate” requiring that all Americans have health insurance.
Both the House and Senate health-care bills require Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. The House bill establishes a fine based on percentage of a person’s income, while the Senate version creates a penalty as a flat fee or percentage of income, whichever is higher. Those refusing to get insurance could be found guilty of a misdemeanor crime, punishable by another fine or even jail time.
“The president’s proposal adopts the Senate approach but lowers the flat dollar assessments, and raises the percent of income assessment that individuals pay if they choose not to become insured,” a White House plan released in February states.
States rejecting ‘individual mandate’
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, formal resolutions or bills have been filed in opposition to the individual mandate in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Also, as of March 4, Virginia became the first state to enact a new statute section titled, “Health insurance coverage not required.” In Arizona, voters will cast ballots on a constitutional amendment in November 2010 that would “preserve the freedom of all residents of the state to provide for their own health care.”
Lawmakers suggest approval of the legislation may spark a legal battle over states’ rights versus the federal government’s reach of power. The Boston Globe reported the measures could set the stage for “one of the greatest tests of federal power over the states since the civil rights era.”
“The administration is trying to shift from a government by social compact, agreement between elected officials and citizens, to a government where the leaders tell the subjects what to do,” Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, chief sponsor of the measure in his state, told the Globe. “That is not what the American Revolution was about.”
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has sparked nationwide interest with its model “Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act: How Your State Can Block Single-Payer and Protect Patients’ Rights.” ALEC warns that forcing patients to enroll in one-size-fits-all plans would cause massive increases in spending and force policymakers to ration care as a cost-containment measure.
Is mandatory insurance constitutional?
Minnesota State Rep. Tom Emmer told the New York Times in September 2009 that lawmakers in his state have proposed a state constitutional amendment to protect citizens from government interference in their private health decisions.
“All I’m trying to do is protect the individual’s right to make health-care decisions,” Emmer said. “I just don’t want the government getting between my decisions with my doctors.”
He said an amendment wouldn’t prohibit anyone from participating in a federal health program. It would simply prevent them from being forced to enroll.
“[T]ell me where in the U.S. Constitution it says the federal government has the right to provide health care,” Emmer said. “This is the essence of the debate.”
(Wash DC) As of 3/11/10 House Rules Chairman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) “is… preparing a rule that would consider the Senate bill passed” without the House actually voting on the bill. House members would have to vote on accepting the rule, but they would then be able to say they only voted for a [unconstitutional] rule, not for the bill.