Last year’s controversial federal healthcare reform law appears to be the gift that keeps on giving to Republicans.
Three Ohio politicians are doing their part to capitalize on the law’s widespread unpopularity with conservatives, announcing plans to introduce bills in both the state House and Senate that would propose a state constitutional amendment prohibiting any law that would force people to “participate in a healthcare system,” according to a statement from the three legislators.
That’s a reference to a provision of the reform law called the individual mandate, which requires that most Americans purchase health insurance or face a penalty.
“The citizens of Ohio should have the ability to decide for themselves how they want to consume healthcare services,” said Sen. Tim Grendell, (R-Chesterland), one of the bills’ sponsors.
Grendell introduced similar legislation last year that didn’t become law. But with Republicans taking control of Ohio’s House and governorship, plus retaining their control of the Senate, the proposal stands a far better chance of becoming law this time around.
If the legislation is passed, the proposed constitutional amendment would be put to Buckeye State voters as a ballot issue, according to the statement.
Opponents of healthcare reform are riding high after a Florida judge ruled the law unconstitutional due to the individual mandate. “Never before has Congress required that everyone buy a product from a private company,” U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson wrote.
At the direction of newly elected Attorney General Mike DeWine, Ohio joined about 25 other states in the legal challenge to the law in Florida. The attorney general from Wisconsin, which also joined the Florida legal challenge, told the New York Times that he considers the law “dead — unless and until it is revived by an appellate court.”
A spokeswoman for DeWine didn’t respond to questions about whether Ohio’s attorney general agrees that health reform is “dead.”
Along with Grendell, Reps. Ron Maag, (R-Lebanon), and Barbara Sears, (R-Monclova Township), will sponsor the Ohio legislation, according to the statement.
Among the many ironies surrounding the healthcare reform law, which Conservatives dubbed Obamacare, is that the individual mandate was originally a conservative idea. It was, in fact, a key provision of health reform legislation Republicans introduced in 1993 as an alternative to Bill Clinton’s plan, or HillaryCare, as it was widely known at the time. Some longtime U.S. Senators, such as Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, supported legislation featuring the individual mandate in 1993, only to oppose the provision when it reappeared in the reform debate.
Regardless, health reform and the individual mandate seem destined for the Supreme Court.