Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gary Palmer: Missouri rejects Obamacare

  During the dog days of August, people typically are not interested in another state’s primary election or referendum vote. But when Missouri voters approved a ballot initiative opposing the individual mandate in the Obama health care bill, they got the entire nation’s attention.

  On August 3rd, Missouri voters passed a referendum by a margin of 79 – 21 percent to opt their state out of the individual mandate portion of the federal health care law passed by the Democrats in March. Earlier this year, a similar resolution was introduced in the Alabama Legislature but was killed by the Democrats who control the legislature.

  Like millions of other Americans, Missourians oppose the federal government taking over our health care system, the incalculable amount it will add to the federal debt and the resulting extra costs to families. According to Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), in the next three years up to 117 million Americans will lose their employer-provided health insurance benefits and will be forced to buy health care under the new law. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the cost of this new health insurance will increase by as much as $2,100 per year for some American families.

  The cost is just part of what fuels the high opposition to the health care law. As the lopsided vote in Missouri shows, Americans are concerned about the infringement on our freedom.

  The new law takes health care decisions away from individuals and their doctors by delegating the power to make those decisions to unelected bureaucrats such as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. According to Rep. Brady, in addition to new compliance regulations, the health care bill created 47 new federal entities, six new regulatory agencies, 29 pilot projects and 68 grant programs. The new law also established the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the Independent Payments Advisory Board, two new agencies with the power to ration health care.

  In a move that raised even more concerns, Obama appointed Donald Berwick to oversee Medicare and Medicaid. (Obama made the appointment when Congress was recessed for the 4th of July.) Berwick, a vocal proponent of the British socialized health care system, has also been outspoken in his support for rationing care for the elderly and for those whose conditions are too expensive to treat.

  No wonder millions of Americans, especially the elderly and seriously ill, are very concerned about rationing under the new law and are opposed to its implementation.

  Rep. Brady developed a chart to show the impossible complexity of the health care law but even this visual aid does not give a full picture of the new law.

  Years from now, if this law is not repealed, we will be dealing with an ever- expanding bureaucracy that will be churning out new programs and new regulations. Appointed bureaucrats, whose names we will never know and whose agencies may not yet exist, will have more power over us and our health care decisions than any person we ever elect.

  In addition to the resounding rebuke by the people of Missouri of the health care law’s individual mandate, on August 2nd U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ruled against Secretary Sebelius’ motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli challenging the new health care law. In his ruling, Judge Hudson stated that it is far from certain that Congress has the authority to force individuals to buy health insurance and penalize those who do not.

  This case will very likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court sides with the people of Virginia, the entire health care bill could be struck down because the Democrats did not include a joint and severable provision that would maintain the law even if other sections such as the individual mandate were struck down by the federal court.

  The Missouri referendum and the lawsuit filed by Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli not only emphasize the widespread opposition to the Democrat’s nationalized health care law, but also raise this issue to the forefront of state elections for governors, attorneys general and legislatures nationwide.

  Voters nationwide may well be casting votes in November to elect candidates for governor, attorney general and for the state legislature who are committed to fighting the implementation of the takeover of our health care system. Consequently, by killing the bill for a referendum to allow Alabamians the right to opt out of the nationalized health care law, the Democrat majority in the Alabama Legislature may very well have turned this fall’s election into a referendum on nationalized health care anyway.

  Democrats had hoped that the furor over their health law would have subsided by now, but that is clearly not the case.

  About the author: Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.

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