What in God’s name is going on with the amendment to repeal the insurance mandate? To review, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was the health-care reform law signed  last year by President Obama that, amongst many other reform measures, requires individuals to purchase insurance starting in 2014. Well, it seems that the Ohio Project, the group responsible for collecting signatures to put the amendment on the ballot, forgot to look into the constitutionality of the amendment.  This is from the Dispatch this morning:

Even if the amendment is approved in November, the fight won’t be over. Many believe that the amendment would have no effect because the state cannot override a federal law.

“It might make some folks feel good, but it’s not going to do anything,” said Dan Kobil, a law professor and constitutional expert at Capital University.

And this is from the Dayton Daily News from today as well:

Thompson said that if voters approve the amendment it would become part of the state constitution’s bill of rights and put Ohio in a strong position to challenge the individual mandate in the federal health care law.

Richard Saphire, a professor at the University of Dayton’s law school, disagreed. He said that federal law still would supersede the provision in the state constitution.

“The state can’t trump through any of its lawmaking powers the validity of a federal statutory responsibility,” said Saphire.

Umm, alright, I’m going to go with the two law school professors on this one and just assume they know what they are talking about when it comes to these matters.

What is even more confusing is that supporters of the amendment contend that opting out of the mandate will have no impact on other ACA provisions already taking effect in Ohio.

Progress Ohio, a liberal group that plans to oppose the state constitutional amendment, said it could affect not just the mandate but also other parts of the federal law, such as the ban on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and the ability of young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.

Longstreth disagreed, saying the amendment “only affects the mandate” and “makes no mention of anything else.”

What is really going on here is that the supporters of the amendment know that these provisions are the popular provisions of the bill and they would lose any fight that would repeal them. Just to put this in context, this is what the ACA is doing for Ohioans this year alone:

  • 156,000 medicare beneficiaries hit the donut hole each year with medicare part D coverage. Essentially, they fall into a hole where the amount given to them from the government doesn’t cover the cost of their medications. The ACA will allow the federal government to mail a $250 to every beneficary that hits the donut hole, starting in July, every month through the end of the year, to help cover the hole.
  • Extending coverage to young adults by allowing them to stay on their parents’ plans will cover an additional 35,000 individuals.
  • $152 million in federal dollars are available to Ohio to help individuals with pre-existing conditions find affordable coverage.

And the list of items goes on and on. What isn’t clear though is if this amendment were to be approved what impact it would have on Ohio’s ability to draw down these types of benefits from the federal government. It is not unreasonable to think that if the amendment were to pass the federal government would start to rethink offering these benefits to Ohioans if we refuse to take part in the main provision of the law.

So to review, the tea party backers that are pushing this amendment don’t even know whether the amendment is constitutional, and baring the off chance that it is, they are willing to put at risk the ability of hundreds of thousands of Ohioans’ to gain access to affordable insurance to prove a ridiculous point. This is exactly why these people are unfit to govern.

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