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Idaho governor first to sign law barring federal health insurance mandate

[JURIST] Idaho Governor CL "Butch" Otter (R) [official website] on Wednesday became the first governor to sign a bill [H 391 text] into state law banning any federal mandate for individuals to have health insurance. The Idaho Health Freedom Act orders the state attorney general to file a lawsuit against the national government over any law making health insurance mandatory. The bill highlights efforts the state has made in local health care reform and stresses the state government's determination to oppose federal health care legislation [press release]. State Senate minority leader Kate Kelly (D) [official website] criticized the price tag on the new bill and accused Otter of fiscal irresponsibility [AP report]. The legislation will face legal challenges under the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution [Senate backgrounder], which gives federal law precedence over state law.

Last week, the Virginia legislature passed a similar bill that would ban federal mandates on health insurance [JURIST report], which the state's governor has pledged to sign. At least 37 other states have plans to introduce similar legislation, according to the American Legislative Council (ALEC) [official website], which published a model bill [press release] on which the initiatives are based. Last month, President Barack Obama released his own health care proposal [JURIST report] that seeks to reconcile versions of the bill passed by the House and Senate [JURIST reports] last year. Obama has argued that the legislation would overhaul private health insurance and provide affordable care for millions of Americans while Republicans have said they would block the bill [NYT report] because it was too expensive and would compel people to buy health insurance.

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