Arizona, Oklahoma voters approve measures to block health care mandate

[JURIST] The voters of Arizona, Oklahoma and Colorado on Tuesday voted on state constitutional amendments seeking to make the individual mandate provision of the recent health care reform law [HR 3590 materials; JURIST news archive] unenforceable in their states. In Arizona, Proposition 106 [text] passed 55.4 percent to 44.6 percent [unofficial results]. The amendment purports to "preserve the freedom of Arizonans to provide for their health care" by prohibiting compulsory participation in "any health care system." In Oklahoma, Question 756 [materials] passed 65 percent to 35 percent [unofficial results]. The amendment states that it will "prohibit[] making a person participate in a health care system." In Colorado, Amendment 63 [text, PDF] was projected to have been rejected by voters as of 2:00 AM EST 53 percent to 47 percent [unofficial results]. The amendment would have affirmed that "all persons ... have the right to health care choice" by disallowing the required participation in health insurance plan. A similar provision was set to appear on the ballot in Florida as well [The Hill report], but was removed by a state judge due the misleading ballot language. The enforceability of these provisions has been questioned due to their conflict with federal law, which preempts state law under the Supremacy Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] of the US Constitution [text].

In August, Missouri voters approved a similar ballot initiative [JURIST report] with 71.1 percent of the vote. Similar laws have been passed by the legislatures of Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana and Virginia [JURIST report]. The health care law has faced ongoing legal challenges since it was signed into law [JURIST report] by President Barack Obama in March. In October, a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan upheld the individual mandate provision [JURIST report] of the law as constitutional, dismissing a lawsuit brought by the Thomas Moore Law Center. In August, a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia denied a motion to dismiss another lawsuit [JURIST report] brought by the state of Virginia challenging the constitutionality of the same provision. In May, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) [association website], a small business lobby group, joined 20 states in a third lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the health care reform law in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

 

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