Health care freedom amendment proposed for Florida

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Written by: Andrew Nappi

Floridians will have the opportunity to vote for “health care freedom” next year.

The Florida Health Care Freedom Act, a constitutional amendment initiative, will appear on the 2012 Florida general election ballot.

The amendment, “Proposes creation of s. 28, Art. I of State Constitution to prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person or employer to purchase, obtain, or otherwise provide for health care coverage; permits health care provider to accept direct payment from person or employer for lawful health care services; exempts persons, employers, & health care providers from penalties & taxes for paying or accepting direct payment for lawful health care services; permits purchase or sale of health insurance in private health care systems; specifies what amendment does not affect or prohibit.”

Approval will require a 60 percent super-majority of Florida voters.

The proposal does not prohibit implementation of any government health care plan in Florida. But it does stipulate that no citizen of Florida may be compelled to join.

The Republican super majority had the option of passing a similar measure as statute, but future legislatures could reverse a simple law if, or when, the cycle of power swings back to the Democrats. If approved as a constitutional amendment, reversal becomes much more difficult.

The measure passed the Florida Senate on March 9, early in the 2011 legislative session. Senate President Mike Haridopolis promised the measure and pushed it through the legislature’s upper chamber. Vying for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate, the Melbourne Republican will likely use his support of the Health Care Freedom Act to sure up his position as the anti-Obamacare candidate.

The Florida House passed the measure on May 4 along party lines by 84-37 vote.

Two important questions remain.

The first and most obvious is whether Florida’s voters will support the measure to the 60 percent threshold needed for passage.

Just as importantly, the bill does not provide any provision to protect Florida citizens should the courts uphold the constitutionality of the national health care law. The federal government would not likely recognize Florida’s amendment, and would claim final authority under the “supremacy clause” of the Constitution. Despite the fact that unconstitutional federal acts don’t hold the force of law, and courts don’t stand as the sole arbiter of an acts constitutionality, the feds would likely insist upon its right to compel Floridians to join. Should this scenario evolve, the bill offers no protections for Florida citizens.

Every liberty minded citizen should address this question to their state representatives: What will you ultimately do to protect my choice?

A bill that purports to provide freedom of choice without a mechanism to guarantee choice may prove less substantive than meets the eye.

For more information on health care freedom acts and legislative tracking, c lick here.

For information on more sweeping health care nullification and legislative tracking, click here.

Andrew Nappi is the State Chapter Coordinator for the Florida Tenth Amendment Center.

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Andrew Nappi is the State Coordinator for the Florida Tenth Amendment Center. He lives in the Tampa Bay Area with wife Tammy and dogs Emma and Bud Lite.

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