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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  • It’s obviously unconstitutional.   States can’t supersede federal law.  Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution guarantees that.

    Both groups involved with getting this thing on the ballot (the tea party and the GOP) know it’s unconstitutional but they have different reasons for pursuing it anyway.

    The Tea Party folks are COUNTING on the fact that it’s unconstitutional and are hoping to get it passed so they can use it to challenge the federal law.

    The Republicans don’t really give a crap either way.  They only want to get it on the ballot so they can bring on pro-SB5 voters in November.

  • Anastasjoy

    Well, it’s kind of irrelevant because they did not get their signatures for this year, and the legislature’s attempt to do an end run around petitions and put it on the ballot legislatively failed. And they know, and I know, and you know, and everybody knows this “repeal” if passed has absolutely to effect because a state referendum can’t overturn federal law. It was pretty clearly intended as a ploy to bring out crazy teabaggers who would then vote to uphold SB 5. I really think that’s all that was behind this.

    As for reasoning, the Ohio Project wasn’t using any when they gathered signatures. They weren’t even talking about the mandate. They were babbling about “health care freedom” and making “Ohioans free to choose their own health care.” (As I said to the nice but clueless woman, obviously a paid petitioner, who asked me to sign, “Don’t Ohioans have the right NOW to choose any health-care plan they want — if they can afford it?”)

  • Anonymous

    This amendment is nothing more than the GOP trying to rouse its base, i.e., the Obama-hating kooks, to vote on election day to try to stem the repeal-SB5-tide.
    It’s clearly unconstitutional, but when has that ever stopped the GOP, especially since they purged the intellectually honest members out of their party over the past 10 years.

  • Progessive Willy

    One of their arguments is that the federal government shouldn’t require them to purchase a consumer product (i.e. health insurance).  I suppose these same people drive without car insurance because ‘the state can’t make them buy it’.  

    I agree with the others…it’s a smoke screen to bring out the pro-SB5 voters.  But, it shouldn’t affect SB5, should it, since it won’t be on the ballot until November 2012?  

  • I never said you guys were idiots, Chris.   I believe – and have written – that there is a definitely a segment of your group that honestly believes the federal government should stay out of their personal lives (which I generally agree with as well) and that the government is overreaching when it wants to mandate health coverage.

    I understand this argument.  I don’t agree.  But I respect it.

    In all fairness, you guys did a great job organizing this.  And it’s a shame you had to get the Republican Party to help get it on the ballot.  They obviously don’t care about the issue like you do.  To them it’s just a part of their 2011 GOTV effort. 

  • Bueller

    Well, I can partially agree with one of your statements.  Ican agree that at least one person “that support[s] this issue”  is an “idiot”. Otherwise, I did not see anything that came close to “honest dialogue and discourse” in your post of which to bother to respond.

  • Anonymous

    You sound  more like an anarchist than any kind of patriot.  Maybe that’s why you guys refer to cops as “jackboots” and stuff.

  • Tim M

    Mr. Littleton,
    Thank you for your comment.
    Question for you, “freedom” lover that you are…
    How can your party support people who discrimate agains’t people based simply on who they want to marry? Is that more freedom, or less?

    How can your party support laws that dictate what a woman can and cannot do to her body? Is that more freedome, or less?

    How can your party support a pledge signed today by one of your most popular candiates that stated African American’s were better off under slavery? There is no question about that – it is less freedom.

    About economic liberties

    How can your party support the idea that any corporation should be able to pay a person whatever they desire – even if it is a penny?

    How can your party support harmful enviromental policies that pollute and kill wildlife and people? Why do you people want to return us to the days when soot from smoke stacks covered entire towns? Why can’t you people understand that if we do not create some penalties to hold people and corporations accountable – things like this happen?

    In the end Mr. Littleton, the group you are associated with is not about “freedom” and “liberty.” You do not understand rational economic policy. What you’re really about is imposing your selfish views on others. And then you lie about it hiding that this is about “freedom.” Tell Mr. Littleton, did you circulate petitions agains’t No Child Left Behind?


  • Sluggo

    Chris Littleton

    Some freedom. 

    Under our current health insurance system some people are free to live without the ability to procure an affordable health insurance policy if their employer doesn’t offer it .  We are free to be fearful of losing our jobs because there is no affordable alternative for health insurance.  We are free to have our private insurance cancelled when we become sick.  We are free to fear bankruptcy if we become ill and lose insurance.  We are free to be part of an economy in which we pay more per person for health insurance than any other developed nation by far with worse outcomes.

    If that’s what freedom is all about, then I choose serfdom.  In fact, we’re there already.  But it’s not the government that is our master – the Citizen’s United case proved that.

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