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Indiana GOP wants to block federal health reform mandates

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Republicans in the Legislature have joined their counterparts in 25 other states in trying to block key aspects of the federal government’s health care reform from taking effect in Indiana.

Joint resolutions in both the Indiana House and Senate were filed Jan. 11, calling for an amendment to the state constitution that would allow individuals, employers or health care providers to purchase or perform health care services without buying health insurance.

Schneider

The amendment would attempt to block enforcement of provisions in the federal bills that would require individuals to buy insurance and require all but the smallest employers to provide health insurance benefits.

“A person, an employer, or a health care provider shall not be compelled, directly or indirectly, to participate in any health care system,” reads Senate Joint Resolution 14. Identical language was filed as House Joint Resolution 6.

The Senate resolution is sponsored by five Republicans—Scott Schneider, Indianapolis; Dennis Kruse, Auburn; Marlin Stutzman, Howe; Ed Charboneau, Valparaiso; and Greg Walker, Columbus. The House version is authored by Republican Cindy Noe of Indianapolis.

Conservatives around the country have argued that the mandates in the federal bills, particularly the requirement on individuals, violate the U.S. Constitution. They point out that the U.S. government has never required its citizens to purchase any product or service.

They also note that, since insurance companies are restricted to selling within state lines, Congress cannot claim the bills are protected by the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause.

However, the “mandate” is worded as a tax that would be levied on citizens who do not buy health insurance. Most legal scholars say the U.S. Supreme Court is unlikely to meddle with Congress’ authority to tax citizens in whatever way it decides is best.

If the federal health care legislation survives a challenge to its constitutionality, it would probably trump changes to state constitutions. Nevertheless, national Republican leaders are encouraging the state efforts for their symbolic disapproval, if nothing else.

“This growing rebellion in the states is yet another indication of strong grass-roots opposition to Washington Democrats’ plans,” said the Republican leader in the U.S. House, Rep. John Boehner, D-Ohio, in a Jan. 14 statement.

For the amendment to become law in Indiana, it would have to pass this year, then pass again next year, then be approved by voters in a statewide referendum.

However, it seems unlikely the measure will move out of the Democrat-controlled House. Last year, a similarly worded resolution was approved in the Indiana Senate but was never introduced in the House.

 

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