Legislators in Missouri have approved a tea party inspired ballot measure that would allow voters to decide if a patient, employer or health care provider should be compelled “to participate in any government or privately run health care system.” Missouri’s vote will occur on August 3, “the same day as its primary elections and will be the first such state referendum since passage of the federal health care law in March,” the Associated Press notes.
The text of the resolution aims to protect individuals from paying fines if they pay for their health care outside of the insurance system and shield providers from the nonexistent threat of accepting direct payments from patients:
1. No law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system.
2. A person or employer may pay directly for lawful health care services and shall not be required by law or rule to pay penalties or fines for paying directly for lawful health care services. A health care provider may accept direct payment for lawful health care services and shall not be required by law or rule to pay penalties or fines for accepting direct payment from a person or employer for lawful health care services.
3. Subject to reasonable and necessary rules that do not substantially limit a person’s options, the purchase or sale of health insurance in private health care systems shall not be prohibited by law or rule.
Like the referendum efforts in several other states — Arizona is the only one to successfully place an initiative on the November ballot — the Missouri initiative will be overridden by federal law. Democrats in the state believe that the measure could prove a valuable organizing tool for Republican voters, however, and refused to support the measure until the bill’s sponsors moved the date of the referendum from November to August. Ultimately, 22 Democrats joined Republicans in support the referendum.
Missouri legislators have also introduced a bill that “Calls on the Attorney General to file an independent lawsuit or join 13 state attorneys general in their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care reform legislation,” while Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder is still seeking private funding to launch a separate legal challenge to the law.
See our updated map of sate efforts to repeal the bill here.