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Amendment 1: Floridians Will Get Their Say on Obamacare, But Only Symbolically

| October 14, 2012

It doesn’t look goof for Obamacare anywhere, not just in Florida.

After railing for more than two years about “Obamacare,” Florida Republicans lost their legal battle this summer against a federal health overhaul that ultimately will require most Americans to have insurance coverage.

But when voters cast ballots this fall, they will see the issue again.

Lawmakers have proposed a constitutional amendment that, if passed, would say Floridians can’t be forced to buy health coverage. At least in the short term, the measure would appear to have little effect, but House sponsor Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, pointed to what he sees as a “basic right” that Floridians should not be “fined, taxed or penalized for our health care choices.”

“I’m hopeful that we will assert what I think should be a basic right in our constitution,” Plakon said Friday.

But Democrats have long argued that the proposal, which will appear on the ballot as Amendment 1, is legally toothless and is simply aimed at firing up Republican voters who loathe the 2010 federal health overhaul, known as the Affordable Care Act. The GOP-dominated Legislature voted in 2011 to put the measure on this fall’s ballot.

“It was political nonsense then,” said Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach. “It’s political nonsense now.”

The proposed amendment does not specifically mention the Affordable Care Act, but it says a “law or rule may not compel, directly or indirectly, any person or employer to purchase, obtain or otherwise provide for health care coverage.” That statement comes under a broader overall aim of preserving the “freedom of all residents of the state to provide for their own health care.”

Critics have long said the constitutional amendment would not allow Floridians to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that most Americans have health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty, a requirement dubbed the “individual mandate.”

The critics’ position has stemmed from the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which generally leads to federal laws trumping state laws when conflicts arise. Republicans also suffered a huge blow in June, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate, in a lawsuit spearheaded by Florida.

Plakon said the proposed constitutional amendment would prevent any future attempts by Florida lawmakers to put similar health-care requirements on residents. Such a scenario, however, seems highly unlikely under the current Republican leadership.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, also said Republican Mitt Romney might win the presidency in November, which could help spur major changes in the health-care system. Romney has called for repealing the Affordable Care Act and giving states more power to make health reforms.

“We think this (Amendment 1) is a great opportunity for Floridians to kind of say where they stand,” said Haridopolos, who sponsored the proposed constitutional amendment, a somewhat-unusual step for a Senate president.

But unlike other ballot proposals this year, Amendment 1 has not sparked an organized campaign of support or opposition. Pafford, who is running for re-election in November, said he has heard “absolutely nothing” about Amendment 1 while out campaigning.

An analysis of proposed constitutional amendments that was posted online last month by the statewide Gunster law firm appears to back up the view that Amendment 1 would have little effect, at least without major changes in Washington.

“Due to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the individual health insurance mandate, this amendment will likely do very little,” the analysis said. “The amendment could prevent the state from implementing a Massachusetts-type health care law if the federal health care law is repealed.”

–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida

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23 Responses for “Amendment 1: Floridians Will Get Their Say on Obamacare, But Only Symbolically”

  1. Yellowstone says:

    Don’t you get a kick out of these guys that vote against the very things they need?

    Do people read anything anymore?

    Hey folks, wake up! Read! Then go vote NO (just like the party of No does)

    Go look at the League of Womens Voters site – they recommend voting NO on all the Ammenments.

    • fred8131 says:

      We? Got a mouse in your pocket? I don’t need it! I have read part ot the law. I challange you to try to read it and understand it. I’ll bet you are just another sheep following the liberal heard. Have you talked to your health care providers about it yet? I’ll bet not. Wait until the bill arrives, wait until you are denied some tets or procedures, wait until you are forced into an exchange, wait until your Dr drops you then tell me how much I need it.

  2. Magnolia says:

    Republicans recommend a yes vote on all amendments. I think people need to study these amendments and make up their own minds.

  3. Reinhold Schlieper says:

    It’s time for some fundamental changes in Florida. Heavens, I am so sick of those self-serving and exploitive Republicans.

  4. Anon says:

    Try living without health insurance and see how much sense the banter from Romney, Ryan, Boehner and the like make.

  5. Lonewolf says:

    An example: I had a routine colonoscopy last year. Out-of-pocket costs (after Insurance) $1600 !! My wife had hers a week ago. Out-of-pocket costs (after insurance) and under the ACA (Obamacare): ZERO, $0.00, nothing…

  6. Right leaning Independent says:

    The only people that will benefit from this fiscal monstrosity will be Illegal Immigrants. The middle class will be slammed with higher tax burdens, as healthcare deductibles have already increased 19%, and that is just the beginning. Quality of care will diminish, and you will be told what operations you can have and can’t have, and if it is a life saving medical procedure that you are denied, you will have to pay for it yourself.

    The original costs quoted by the Obama administration have already effectively doubled. If people want a European style government, they can move to Europe. This country didn’t become the success it has become because we followed Europe’s Socialist model. VOTE REPUBLICAN STRAIGHT DOWN THE LINE!!

  7. Yellowstone says:

    RLI-

    How absurd! “VOTE REPUBLICAN STRAIGHT DOWN THE LINE!!”

    Makes sense, just vote the GOP’s no to anything that makes sense, is good for everyone, treats all people fairly and equally.

    Let’s all take this opportunity to change Florida’s sacred State Constitution with these 11 ridiculous amenments.

    • Right leaning Independent says:

      Yellowstone-

      “Absurd” is voting for another 4 years of Obama and his socialist agenda. Because all the programs Democrats implement to “ensure, it treats all people fairly and equally” does nothing but make the wealthy, wealthier, and the middle class poor. This fiscal monstrosity known as a healthcare bill will do just that. It will be repealed when Romney is sworn in as our next president, and it will be replaced with free market principals, because THAT is what made this country the fiscal powerhouse it has been, and will always be.

  8. BW says:

    Through all the yelling back and forth this is an Amendment that is actually very important and I personally agree with it.

    First, the healthcare system does need attention. BUT the answer is not, in my opinion, in requiring any American to purchase a service such as insurance. I agree that healthcare is important but shouldn’t I have choice of how I want to manage that in my life? Shouldn’t I have choice in how I want to help others with that as well?

    Likewise, our system of government works when states can govern themselves. We have a political party that is basically wanting to throw away that concept and have everything come from the federal level. It’s the way it is for a reason and the reason is so things can get done. Washington doesn’t know Florida and Floridian needs as much as Florida knows that.

    I agree that the extremism and the yelling junk needs to stop. I do agree with this amendment even if it is only “symbolic”. If it spurs real and honest discussion exposing the fact that we are truly headed on the wrong path then it is worth it. I don’t agree with everything Republican, but I do agree with this one. I am really discouraged by the path the Democrat Party has chosen and the direction they have gone because as much as they may say that the Republicans want to control everything, the reality is that is the entire mindset of the Democrat Party today and everything their plans are about.

    • Dorothea says:

      @BW

      You want the states to govern themselves? If your house gets blown over in a hurricane or if Flagler Beach needs sand replenishing, call Governor Scott and see how far you get. I remember the separate but equal (not really very equal) schools and separate black/white drinking fountains and restrooms that were part of Florida’s history not that long ago until federal intervention.

      If you think that the Republicans don’t want to control everything, tell them that my reproductive health is none of their damned business. I get that you don’t like ObamaCare; apparently many in Florida have the same mindset. Just don’t get cancer or have a debilitating stroke and need nursing home care. You may just change your mind when you get the bill, with or without insurance.

      • BW says:

        Dorothea,

        You are missing the point. Yes, the federal government plays a role. But that role should be limited and be kept in check. This notion that the federal level should manage the entire country for all things is scary to say the least. To compare the points I am making to discrimination is absurd.

        Yes, as I said, healthcare is broken. BUT the answer in my opinion is not in forcing citizens to purchase insurance. I am well aware of the costs associated with terminal illness and have went through that with many family members sad to say. I think it’s easy for someone like yourself to say everyone should have insurance. The reality with that is that not everyone can afford and I don’t think it is fair to place that burden for covering that cost onto to others. Likewise, by placing the control of that care into the hands of the federal government you are losing rights to your “reproductive health” not gaining more control. In addition to that why should you be imposing your opinions regarding “reproductive health” on to others when you are arguing that others should not be imposing their opinions regarding that on to you?

        • Dorothea says:

          @BW

          I misunderstood your statement, and I quote you, “Likewise, our system of government works when states can govern themselves.” Thank you for further defining it.

          We have completely different opinions over the roll of state and federal government, so I’m not going to argue over our opinions. However, as a recipient of Medicare (federal) and an excellent corporate health insurance policy that works in conjunction with Medicare, I believe that everyone should participate in a plan or self-insure themselve with a very large bond or sign an affidavit that they would rather not be treated if they can’t pay by cash or credit card. If the untreated ailment is contagious, the uninsured who don’t wish to be treated, should be confined to their homes until they either die from the disease or are no longer contagious.

          The federal government provides me with health insurance and I receive superlative care, especially when it comes to reproductive health, so I have no idea what you mean when you say that , and I quote you, “by placing the control of that care into the hands of the federal government you are losing rights to your “reproductive health” not gaining more control.” And just for the record, I can choose any health provider that I want, Medicare provider or not. I just have to pay more out of pocket if the health care provider is not. So, I don’t believe for a second that I have lost any control at all.

          Insurance is paid for by the insured (or their employers) from car insurance to life insurance to health insurance. For instance, I pay for car insurance and have yet to receive back a dime. So it goes with any form of insurance. Insurers and their actuaries make a bet that I will pay out more than I receive. If my neighbor gets drunk and kills someone with his/her car, an insurer will pay out “MY” premiums to cover the costs. The government requires that I to buy car insurance, so why not health insurance?

          • BW says:

            Dorothea,

            There are a few things that I 100% disagree with:

            1. ” If the untreated ailment is contagious, the uninsured who don’t wish to be treated, should be confined to their homes until they either die from the disease or are no longer contagious.” I am 100% certain that you and I have totally different opinions of the role of government. Those are the types of societies people tend to flee from and move to the USA for a better life.

            2. Health and car insurance are NOT similar. I do not have to drive if I do not choose to or own an car and therefore would not be required to purchase car insurance. BUT under Obamacare I do have to purchase health insurance simply because I am a citizen.

            3. You are missing the point in regards to “who pays”. Think of your street and 3 of your neighbors got together and decided that your neighbor’s weed-infested lawn is driving property values down (aka costing them). They decide that your neighbor and everyone else on the street should have zosia grass lawns just like them because they look better and would bring values up. Well, your neighbor thinks the idea is nice but he can’t afford to replace his lawn nor does he care for zosia grass. If he chose to do anything he would choose St. Augustine grass. But the other neighbors insist he have zosia and since he can’t afford it, Jim and Carol are doing well financially and the decision is that they’ll pay for it even though Jim and Carol do not want to pay for your neighbor’s lawn. That’s basically what is going on with a lot of things including healthcare in my opinion.

            4. Just because it works for you doesn’t mean that every one should be you. Again, your arguments over the perception of Republicans “choosing” for you while you are deciding for others doesn’t add up to me.

            I will agree to disagree.

  9. Will says:

    Last week Mitt Romney said: “We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.” About 30,000 unnecessary deaths a year in the US prove him wrong.

    Read “Death by Idology” from the NY Times

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/15/opinion/krugman-death-by-ideology.html?_r=0

  10. Dorothea says:

    @BW

    A quick response and then I agree to disagree.

    I am not making a “choice” about my reproductive health care if the Republicans force me to have an unnecessary internal vaginal probe and in numerous other ways make laws the remove my choice. I don’t advocate forcing you to do anything in regard to your healthcare, except if you are a public health menace. Other than that, I fully believe that you should have a choice and so should I.

    Medicare has the same rules for every recipient, so I’m not sure what you mean. I don’t know a single Medicare recipient who is displeased with their Medicare benefits. Do you? If you don’t want to accept Medicare, that is your choice. But for a premium of around $125 a month, it is a good choice for me.

    Contagious people are isolated from the public either at home or in the hospital, with or without insurance. How does confining contagious people to bed become a matter of personal freedom that people would flee from their native country to this country?

  11. lg says:

    In case you have Romnesia, remember what you got during the Bush years. This alone will make you vote for President Obama so he can continue cleaning up his mess. Republicans want to get in because at this point President Obama has done all the hard work and the country is on its way to recovery. During the next four years Jobs will be created, economy will get much better and everyone will be better off if you re-elect President Obama. The Republicans know that and want to get in the White House so they can take credit for the Job this President has already done. YOU JUST CAN’T trust these Republicans and Mitt Romney is not qualified to become President. HE IS THE one responsible for shipping jobs to China and making big profits from it, placing his money in foreign bank accounts. If Romney would have paid his taxes in the US along with all his rich friends this country would probably be in a better place. There has never been a clearer choice. Go forward or back to the Bush Policies which devasted this country.

    Wake up and Vote for President Obama

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