Conservative lawmakers in many states are forging ahead with constitutional amendments to ban government health insurance mandates.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Although President Barack Obama's push for a health care overhaul has stalled, conservative lawmakers in about half the states are forging ahead with constitutional amendments to ban government health insurance mandates.
The proposals would assert a state-based right for people to pay medical bills from their own pocketbooks and prohibit penalties against those who refuse to carry health insurance.
In many states, the proposals began as a backlash to Democratic health care plans pending in Congress. But instead of backing away after a Massachusetts election gave Senate Republicans the filibuster power to halt the health care legislation, many state lawmakers are ramping up their efforts with a new enthusiasm.
The moves reflect the continued political potency of the issue for conservatives, who have used it extensively for fundraising and attracting new supportersThe legal impact of any state measures may be questionable because courts generally have held that federal laws trump those in states.
Lawmakers in 34 states now have filed or proposed amendments to their state constitutions or statutes rejecting health insurance mandates, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit group that promotes limited government that is helping coordinate the efforts. Many of those proposals are targeted for the November ballot, assuring that health care remains a hot topic as hundreds of federal and state lawmakers face reelection.