Health Care Freedom Act passes in Arizona, Oklahoma

February 25, 2012

Health, Political

Voter sentiment clearly does not favor the new federal health care laws. Rasmussen, a public polling service, reported in mid-October that 55 percent of Americans favor repeal.

by Mary Budinger — 

Two states have now passed constitutional measures blocking key portions of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, also known also as ObamaCare, which passed last March.

Arizona and Oklahoma will be amending their state constitutions, in the wake of the November 2 election outcomes, to insert language giving residents the right to (1) opt out of any federally mandated health care system without penalty, and (2) have access to any legal medical services they choose to pay for out-of-pocket.

In Colorado, where the campaign was much smaller, voters defeated a similar measure on the November ballot. Virginia, Utah, Idaho, Georgia, Louisiana and Missouri have already put new state laws in place that are similar versions of Arizona’s Health Care Freedom Act.

Voter sentiment clearly does not favor the new federal health care laws. Rasmussen, a public polling service, reported in mid-October that 55 percent of Americans favor repeal. Many voters simply do not like the idea of a federal government takeover of the health care industry. Other voters feel that the legislation was skewed too much in favor of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and would stifle innovation and natural medicine.

Dr. Eric Novack, an orthopedic surgeon in Glendale, wrote the language of Arizona’s Proposition 106. “Of course the insurance industry would love to preserve the ObamaCare mandate,” Novack explained. “After all, what industry wouldn’t love a law that forces Americans to buy its product or face fines at the hands of the Internal Revenue Service? Of course the corporations that run hospitals want new payment systems where all the money to all providers must flow through them. And AARP and Big Pharma want millions of new unwilling and perhaps unwitting customers, as government reduces choices for American families.”

But people saw that what got railroaded through Congress last March embodies everything that is wrong with Washington today and the degree to which the elite, ruling class sees itself above the rest of us — and Arizona voters rightfully rejected that. This puts patients and their families where they belong — at the center of the health care debate — not on the outside, while politicians, bureaucrats and Big Insurance gain control over our decision-making.

Health reform advocates have written off the ballot efforts as little more than symbolic gestures or pointless attempts to “nullify” federal law, which supersedes state law under the Constitution’s “superiority clause.” The rebuttal argument says that the Constitution’s “superiority clause” applies only if a federal law is constitutional.

Still others point to the Bill of Rights, which says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people.”

Novack said he does not see Prop 106 and similar efforts as merely symbolic. “We believe the chance to be victorious at the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue is very good. The Health Care Freedom Act is a foundation for rational health care reform that can protect the rights of the individuals, increase access to care and encourage innovation.”

Meanwhile, 21 state attorneys general have filed suit on the grounds that the U.S. Constitution does not give the central government the power to require every U.S. resident, as a condition of living in this country, to purchase a product from a private company, i.e., health insurance.

The government’s case rests on the interpretation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. This clause, allowing Congress to regulate commerce among the states, was intended to prevent states from erecting tariff and regulatory barriers against other states. The question is whether the health care law exceeded Congress’ powers under the Commerce Clause and constituted an illegal tax.

In early October, a federal judge in Michigan ruled that Congress does have the power to order Americans to buy health insurance. As to fines, the judge said that the Commerce Clause does give Congress the power to impose penalties on behavior it deemed harmful to commerce. The case — Thomas More Law Center, et al vs. Barack Hussein Obama, et al — is expected to be appealed.

The new Republican majority in the House will try to repeal the whole law and, if that is unsuccessful, they are likely to oppose funding the law, and will attempt to repeal the individual mandate and other controversial provisions, although those efforts will likely face an uphill battle in the Senate and a Presidential veto. At the same time, insurers want to reverse tax increases and enact a new measure giving protection against medical malpractice lawsuits to doctors who follow “best practice” guidelines.

It seems certain that before the federal mandate takes effect in 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to decide whether Congress has the power to impose it.


Mary Budinger is an Emmy award-winning journalist who writes about complementary and alternative medicine. 602-494-1999.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 6, Dec 2010/Jan 2011.

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