As the Obama administration and Congress work to pass legislation that would expand affordable coverage for all Americans, some state lawmakers are trying to preemptively undermine those efforts.
Earlier this week, Florida State Senator Carey Baker (R) and State Representative Scott Plakon (R) introduced a state Constitutional amendment that, if adopted, would prevent Floridians from enrolling in any federal health care plan. The language of House Joint Resolution 37 states:
To preserve the freedom of all residents of the state to provide for their own health care:
A law or rule shall not compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system.
“We believe this unprecedented power-grab by President Obama and Congress is clearly not in the best interests of the citizens of Florida,” Baker and Plakon said in a joint statement. Baker, who is a Republican candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, participated in the right-wing tea parties on July 4. Both he and Plakon are sponsors of a “sovereignty” memorial, a measure meant to serve “as a notice and a demand to the Federal Government…to cease and desist, effective immediately, from issuing mandates that are beyond the scope of [their] constitutionally delegated powers.”
Their amendment to ban health care would need approval by a three-fifths vote in both the House and Senate. If passed by the legislature, Florida voters would vote on the constitutional amendment on Election Day 2010.
The Orlando Sentinel notes, “Nearly 4 million Floridians are uninsured presently, and an effort last year by Gov. Charlie Crist and the Legislature called ‘Cover Florida’ to try and make more no-frills coverage plans available without placing mandates on businesses or insurers has so far failed to make a dent in that number.”
Unfortunately, Florida is not the only state considering such radical measures. The Arizona state legislature has previously approved a bill that would “put a proposal on the 2010 ballot which would constitutionally override any law, rule or regulation that requires individuals or employers to participate in any particular health care system.”
Nice move, guys. Does this mean that the Sunshine State with one of the highest levels of retiree population is now going to ban Medicare? And Arizona? Go for it.