Ohio Anti-Health Reform Initiative Could Threaten School Immunizations And University Insurance Coverage

With last year’s landmark health care reform legislation likely to survive a Supreme Court challenge, opponents are taking their fight to individual states.

In Ohio, conservatives have secured a spot on the November ballot for Issue 3, a proposed constitutional amendment to challenge the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance. If enacted, the law could have a number of disastrous unintended consequences, such as threatening immunizations for poor students and university health insurance. Law professors at Ohio’s Case Western Reserve University detailed the threat at a press conference yesterday:

Liberal advocacy group Innovation Ohio enlisted the help of two Case Western Reserve University law professors to analyze Issue 3, which aims to cancel out the 2010 federal law in Ohio by preventing residents from being forced to buy health insurance.

It is questionable whether the constitutional amendment could even do that. But the professors said that Issue 3 would threaten a host of health-care-related laws that might need to be changed down the line. […]

They cited other laws and rules that could be affected: COBRA, which lets employees temporarily buy health insurance through their employers after leaving a job; child-support enforcement orders requiring parents to buy health coverage for their children; immunizations that schools must buy for needy students; and university rules mandating that students buy health insurance as a condition of attendance.

The progressive think tank Innovation Ohio, which participated in yesterday’s news conference, called the proposed amendment an “unmitigated disaster” for the state’s health care laws. “It is literally not a law we can live with,” said Communications Director Dale Butland.

As conservatives grasp for any possible way to undermine the Affordable Care Act, it is likely we will see ballot challenges like this one pop up in other states as well. Unfortunately, the result of these misguided ventures will almost certainly be more unintended consequences to state health care laws and an overall decrease in people’s health care.