Well, isn’t this an interesting case of irony. Issue 3, the “Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment”, the constitutional amendment on the ballot this November that is being championed by Tea Party groups as an effort to repeal the individual mandate in the recently enacted Affordable Care Act (ACA)  is so sloppily worded and ambiquous that only one thing is for certain – if it passes the people who make out the most will be attorneys who will litigate the hell out of it.

The progressive think tank Innovation Ohio released a report yesterday highlighting the fact that the language of the amendment is so vague and ambiguous that it probably would not pass a first year law class.

… the language, definitions and prohibitions contained in the amendment are so broadly worded that Issue 3  would also ban or freeze in place (and not allow for any future changes to) countless other laws, rules and reporting requirements designed to provide oversight of the medical and insurance professions, and to protect

So, what exactly are these laws, rules and reporting requirements that may be frozen in place if Issue 3 passes? Oh, just the laws and policies used to govern workers’ compensation, child support enforcement orders, and the licensing of health care providers and insurance agents around the state.

  • The Workers’ Compensation System
  • Child Support Enforcement Orders
  • College and University Student Health Insurance Coverage Requirements
  • The Monitoring of “Pill Mills”
  • Abortion Notifications under the newly enacted HB 78 (and possibly the Act itself)
  • Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Tax Levies
  • School Immunizations and Disease Tracking (such as smallpox, influenza and HIV)
  • Licensing of Health Care Providers and Insurance Agent
When pressed on the issue though, authors of the amendment not only accepted Innovation Ohio’s critique of the report but said that was their intention all along – to make the amendment so broad that it impacted not just the individual mandate but all forms of state health programs support by Republicans and Democrats.

Maurice Thompson, head of the 1851 Center, a conservative constitutional law center that drafted the legislation, said his group intends to have its amendment affect other laws in Ohio beyond the new federal law.

“Their argument is pretty ironic because we’ve been saying all along that this is intended to have a greater effect in order to lower costs and create more health care freedom,” Thompson said. “We are attempting to draw a line in the sand and say that the federal government shouldn’t get any further in between doctors and patients.”

Oh why oh why can’t we have a better press corps in Ohio? Because, clearly, the next question to ask is if that is true, your intent was to impact all sorts of existing laws besides just the ACA that is not what supporters of the amendment have been saying all along. In fact this is from their own website supporting the bill?

Q: What doesn’t the Health Care Freedom Amendment do?

A: This Amendment does nothing to influence or interfere with voluntary insurance and health care arrangements, whether between you and your doctor, you and your insurer, or you and your employer, other than to protect them from being supplanted by the federal government preemption of the health care and health care insurance field.

As noted above, this Amendment does nothing to interfere with state, federal, and local laws and programs that were in place prior to March 19, 2010, the day the Patient Protection and Affordability Act was passed.


Someone is either confused or lying about what the intent of this amendment is and it is a shame that it is now on the ballot and supporters of the amendment can’t even get it straight on what they hope to achieve with it.

Also, Plain Dealer, explain to me how you let Mr. Thompson get away with saying this?

Thompson said the clause wouldn’t freeze current laws on the books but rather just keep new ones from being enacted. For example, he said that workers’ compensation laws are specifically allowed for in the Ohio constitution and that the new amendment wouldn’t override them.

Have we just given up on trying to get people to make sense? I don’t even know where to start with this. First, Mr. Thompson you can’t just continue saying that the amendment won’t override current laws on the books when the report clearly shows that it will. You need to produce some sort of new evidence explaining how it won’t. And, two, come on Plain Dealer, you are just going to let him say that? The next thing out of your mouth should be well why does Innovation Ohio think that isn’t the case? If you are just going to let him repeat his false talking points what are we trying to do here? And, third, this comment is clearly in contradiction to the the comment he made right before it? So which is it Mr. Thompson, the intent of the amendment is to impact other laws in Ohio or it is not?

The details of this argument are one thing but the larger issue this speaks to is still true: the Tea Party movement is horrified by the knowledge that experts bring to discussions about the economy, global warming, abortion, or science in general. It isn’t surprising that when they decide they are going to write a constitutionally amendment they get a couple things wrong. When your ideological beliefs are predicated on the idea that ‘experts’ are the ones to be feared and that ‘facts’ can have biases, don’t be surprised that when you go around trying to make laws in the real world your ideas bump up against pesky things like reality.

Not only is Issue 3 a waste of tax payers time that will have literally no impact on the implementation of the ACA in Ohio but if it passes it will have dire consequences on the health and safety of all Ohioans, supporters of the ACA or not. Tea Party ideologues have inadvertently taken their partisan hatred of President Obama so far that they are literally wagering the lives of Ohioans to score political points.