Last month, ThinkProgress revealed that health insurance companies, through a corporate front group specializing in state legislature policy called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), have been orchestrating an effort to undermine health reform in the states. Virginia Del. Bob Marshall (R) has seized upon ALEC’s template “Health Care Freedom Act” legislation, and introduced his own “Virginia Health Care Freedom Act” to declare an individual mandate — a cornerstone of reform — unconstitutional. In an interview posted today, Marshall said the mandate reminded him of mobsters, and that national reform efforts are “criminal activity”:
“Mobsters used to offer ‘protection’ to business owners, so when Congress says that if individuals don’t become customers of businesses that contribute to them, to me that crosses the line. For me, it is hard to distinguish what is going on in Washington, D.C., from criminal activity.”
Marshall, whose campaign is being supported by much of the Virginia GOP establishment and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), has fought bitterly to defeat reform. Speaking at a states’ rights rally in Richmond, Marshall declared, “this is a fight over whether you are a citizen or you are a serf”:
MARSHALL: This Obamacare is not a fight over health insurance. It’s not even a payback for political help. This is a fight over whether you are a citizen or you are a serf. It’s not your wallet that they want, it’s your soul, it’s your family. We are not going to allow this to happen. Don’t call these folks atheists, they believe in themselves.
Despite Marshall’s inflamed rhetoric in the former Confederate capital, the Massachusetts health system, which covers 98% of Bay State citizens and enjoys support from Republicans like Mitt Romney and Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-MA), has an individual mandate.