Efforts To Repeal Health Reform Heat Up In The States; Alabama And Ohio Moving Forward With Referendum

Republicans in Washington DC may be slowly backing away from their repeal reform rhetoric, but the fight to repeal health care reform is still alive and well in the states. At least fourteen states are still challenging the constitutionality of health care reform in court and some 38 states have either filed or announced their intentions to file legislation that would repeal all or parts of the pending health care reform legislation.

Yesterday, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray “approved the language of a petition sponsored by the Ohio Liberty Council and other conservative groups to remove Ohio residents from requirements to purchase health insurance and to participate in health plans.” The Ohio Ballot Board will have to approve the measure before supporters start collecting “402,000 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters by early July to place the issue on the November ballot as a constitutional amendment.”

In Alabama, the State Senate voted 23–8 to let voters decide by July 31 whether to rewrite the state constitution to say that ‘a law or rule shall not compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer or health care provider to participate in any health care system.” Eleven Democrats joined 12 Republicans in voting for the measure:

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, said it would help with the lawsuit that Alabama’s attorney general and other state attorneys general have filed over the federal plan. Beason’s bill won’t take effect unless aproved by the House and by Alabama voters in a referendum on July 31. Beason predicted his bill won’t make it that far in the Democrat-controlled Legislature. “They will bury it in the House and pretend there is not enough time” in the legislative session to consider it, he said….Opponents also predicted the bill wouldn’t survive a court challenge because state law can’t override federal law.

These state-based efforts to repeal reform may be supported and championed by the Tea Party movement (like the Ohio Liberty Council), but they’re being orchestrated and organized by the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC], a “business-friendly conservative group that coordinates activity among statehouses.” The Council is currently pushing model legislation to protect “the rights of patients to pay directly for medical services” and prohibit the individual mandate. At least 35 states are using the legislation as a model for their own repeal efforts, including Ohio and Alabama.


ALEC is no fan of health reform or health, for that matter. “For years the tobacco industry has been one of ALEC’s chief underwriters” and has generally been used as a vehicle by which large coporations advance their agenda in state legislatures. The National Resources Defense Council reports that “the tie that binds is money, and ALEC’s major underwriters have included the now-disgraced Enron Corporation, as well as the American Nuclear Energy Council, the American Petroleum Institute, Amoco, Chevron, Coors Brewing Company, Shell, Texaco, Chlorine Chemistry Council, Union Pacific Railroad, Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, Waste Management, Philip Morris Management Corporation, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and many other of the nation’s major corporations and trade associations.”

If ALEC succeeds in repealing health care reform, some corporations may benefit, but the residents who live in these states certainly won’t. As a new Center for American Progress Action Fund report concludes, thousands in Ohio, Alabama and the other states considering repeal would lose access to expanded Medicaid coverage and affordability subsidies.

To be clear, there are at least three different efforts to repeal reform: 1) Congressional Republicans have introduced three different repeal bills, 2) fourteen attorneys general are suing the federal government 3) ALEC is encouraging states to pass their own repeal legislation or ballot initiatives. (H/T @emma_sandoe)