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Posted on Fri, Jul. 23, 2010 10:15 PM
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Missouri voters should reject pointless Proposition C on health care

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Supporters are calling Proposition C on the Missouri statewide ballot the “Health Care Freedom Act.”

It more accurately could be called the “Futile Gesture Act.” Or perhaps the “Full Employment for Lawyers Act.”

The ballot measure is an empty protest of federal health care reform, instigated by an advocacy group amply funded by health insurers and drug companies. Besides its expense in printed ballots, the measure could end up costing taxpayers plenty in legal fees.

Missouri voters should say no” on Aug. 3.

The ballot language seeks to amend Missouri statutes to “deny the government authority to penalize citizens for refusing to purchase private health insurance or infringe upon the right to offer or accept direct payment for lawful health care services.”

It’s a response to the provision of the federal health care reform law that requires all Americans to have health insurance or be assessed a fine.

Though controversial, that provision is an essential part of the Affordable Care Act. Insurance companies need healthy people in the pool if they are to be expected to cover people who are older or have pre-existing conditions.

A state statute would have almost no chance of trumping federal legislation in the courts. But it doesn’t take much to envision a rush of legal action if people cite the Missouri statute as a way to avoid either purchasing insurance or paying a penalty.

A second section of Proposition C asks voters to “modify laws regarding the liquidation of certain domestic insurance companies.”

This involved technical alterations to existing Missouri statutes — something the legislature routinely takes care of. It is on the ballot only because a bill calling for modification of insurance laws became the vehicle on which lawmakers attached the language regarding federal health care reform.

Proposition C runs contrary to the Missouri General Assembly’s oft-stated emphasis on personal responsibility and abhorrence of people seen as freeloaders.

The ballot issue seeks to absolve people from the responsibility of purchasing insurance. If they become sick or injured and require treatment, however, others pick up the tab in the form of higher premiums and taxpayer dollars spent on indigent care.

Legislators should not have condoned that kind of behavior by putting Proposition C on the ballot. Voters should reject this bad public policy.

Posted on Fri, Jul. 23, 2010 10:15 PM
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