Here’s Virginia’s State legislator Bob Marshall explaining Virginia’s new bill allowing citizens to opt out of the mandate to purchase health insurance and if the IRS comes after any citizen the Virginia Attorney General will defend them and stop the IRS coming after a fine or jail time for the individual mandate to purchase health insurance. Come on Tennessee don’t fall behind any more like you already have.

Virginia Passes Health Freedom Bill, Setting Up Legal Challenge to Individual Mandate

In anticipation of the federal individual mandate to require citizens to purchase health insurance approved by the Congress, the Commonwealth of Virginia recently passed a bill providing the basis for a state-based legal challenge.

The pushback came from a bipartisan coalition of elected officials in advance of Congress’s approval of President Obama’s health care legislation. The Democrat-controlled Virginia Senate passed their version of the anti-mandate measure, Senate Bill 417, in February, followed by the House of Delegates passing House Bill 10, 87-17 in March.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, says he plans to sign the bill, and Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has declared his intention to file suit “against the federal government and its unconstitutional overreach of its authority.”

Other States Consider Action

Statehouses across the country have been considering similar legislation. According to Christie Herrera, director of the Health and Human Services Task Force for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a DC-based nonprofit, a total of 38 states are considering anti-mandate measures.

“Thirty-three states have introduced legislation,” Herrera said. “An additional four have announced their intentions to file, and there is one citizen-led initiative announced by the Independent Institute.”

Health Freedom Goes National

States are following Arizona’s lead via constitutional amendments and statutory approaches.

“Most states are doing a constitutional amendment. But some states don’t consider constitutional amendments this session, like Virginia, or have byzantine rules for amending their constitution, like Tennessee,” Herrera said. “A handful of states are pushing forward to enact statutory measures for now.”

Idaho’s statutory measure currently sits on the governor’s desk, and Kansas’s bill has passed out of committee and will head to the House floor. The Senate version of the Kansas bill is still being considered by the judiciary committee.

“The Health Care Freedom Act will be back on the November 2010 ballot in Arizona. It differs from the original initiative only in that it responds to critics who feared the 2008 initiative would have adversely affected existing state programs,” said Bolick.

Opt-Outs Could Scuttle Plan?

The legislation was not without opposition in Virginia. Herrera says opponents likened it to efforts to evade federally ordered racial integration of schools in the 1950s. Others say if states try to opt out of the federal mandate the entire plan could fail because without the healthy to subsidize the sick, prices would skyrocket.

“The people of Virginia have made a statement to the federal government through their state that government cannot control their health care decisions,” said Kansas Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Johnson County). “Hopefully the people of Kansas, like citizens in many other states, will soon join Virginia in making that statement.”

Supreme Court Could Decide

“If Congress tried to enforce a law that directly violated the terms of the Health Care Freedom Amendment, the courts would have to decide whether a state’s guarantee of liberty to its citizens can protect them from actions by the federal government that would violate that liberty,” said Roland.

According to Herrera, the Virginia act enables an individual citizen to rely on the legal power of the Commonwealth to defend him- or herself in a case that could conceivably go to the Supreme Court, which could decide the constitutionality of the mandate.

“Based on the current composition of the Supreme Court, I expect the individual health insurance mandate would probably be found unconstitutional, either as a violation of the commerce clause or the individual right to privacy,” said Roland.

Sarah McIntosh (mcintosh.sarah@gmail.com) teaches constitutional law and American politics at Wichita State University in Kansas.

Internet Info:

Virginia Senate Bill 417: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=101&typ=bil&val=sb417&Submit2=Go

Virginia House Bill 10: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=101&typ=bil&val=hb10&Submit2=Go

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