Health Care Freedom Amendment IS NOT About Freedom

Posted: February 17, 2014 in Economic Freedom, Healthcare/Obamacare, Legislative Issues
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There is a hearing this week on HJR 62, a proposed constitutional amendment that is supposed to protect the health care freedom of Missourians.

I’ve read it and to be honest, it sure doesn’t look like it will do that. While I would agree with the first section of the proposed Amendment in full, the second section completely annihilates any of the flowery “rights” oriented language in the first section. Then, as seems to be typical of these amendments, the actual language the voters will see on the ballot in no way reflects the powers being granted to the legislature and courts to violate the very thing it is pretending to protect.

We’ll do this in reverse order so that I don’t waste any more of your valuable time than is necessary.

Here is the language that will appear on the ballot if this goes through to become a potential Constitutional Amendment in Missouri:

“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to declare that all persons have a fundamental, natural right to make their own choices about whether to obtain lawful health care services or products and make and receive direct payment for such services or products according to private, voluntary agreements?”.

That sounds perfectly right and reasonable, and I would agree with it…as would most people.

Then here is the second section of the actual language that will be in the Missouri Constitution if this passes out of the General Assembly:

Text of Constitutional Amendment HJR 62

2. This section shall not prevent this state’s courts from enforcing contracts, nor prevent the general assembly from establishing statutes which prohibit certain dangerous health care services, impose reasonably uniform regulation of the health insurance industry in this state, or impose or collect uniformly imposed taxes for the purpose of funding public health care programs, provided all such statutes are otherwise consistent with all other constitutional provisions.
 I put the boldface in there to simply draw your attention to only one of the many problems with this section. We’ll deal with that last.
 First of all, I have never heard anyone state that contracts that are enforceable would become void for any reason in health care. So why is the very first part of the second section dedicated to Constitutionally ensuring that courts can ENFORCE contracts? It makes no sense. Lawful contracts are always enforceable. Could it be because the CA’s (Cooperative Agreements) between State agencies and Federal agencies are contracts, and enforceable as such? It certainly warrants pondering.
 Then the second “caveat” if you will: nor prevent the general assembly from establishing statutes which prohibit certain dangerous health care services. The General Assembly already does this and has been doing it for a long time. How does this enhance health freedom?
 The third “caveat” is something they also already do and have done through various means for quite some time: impose reasonably uniform regulation of the health insurance industry in this state.

Then, the one I put in bold…or impose or collect uniformly imposed taxes for the purpose of funding public health care programs Isn’t this exactly how Obamacare is to be enforced? Through taxation? They are granting themselves Constitutional authority to tax you for public health care. Most people are already paying taxes for Medicaid and such, but this gives the state the specific authority to collect and impose taxes for public health care on everyone in Missouri. How is this ensuring health care freedom in Missouri? Have we forgotten that the power to tax is the power to destroy? So in a “freedom” bill the General Assembly is giving themselves the authority to tax specifically for health care. Seriously, how is this positive for freedom?

Then there is the first section. It can be viewed as the right hand which giveth while the second section plays the left hand that taketh away:

Section 35. 1. That the liberty inherent in each citizen includes autonomy in decisions regarding lawful health care-related services or products and the manner in which contracting parties may agree for payment to be made for such services or products. No government official or agency shall have any authority either to compel any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system, or purchase any specific health care services or products, or purchase health care services or products in general, or to impose any sort of direct or indirect penalty, tax, fee, or levy for choosing not to participate in such a system or purchase such products; nor shall any government official or agency make a citizen’s right to offer or accept direct payment for lawful health care services subject to any form of direct or indirect penalty, tax, fee, or levy nor shall any government official or agency dictate the mode or content of lawful health care services or products offered.

This first section should stand on it’s own and have no constraints placed upon it by the second section of the proposed amendment. (Please note that it is ALL Section 35. Paragraph one and paragraph two or 35.1 and 35.2)

While it may not be popular to say so, on it’s face, this bill is a problem. It is not something that those who value freedom, in health care or otherwise, should support. Do we really think it helps our freedom to ensconce in our Missouri Constitution the authority for more taxation?

As always, your thoughts are welcome.

 

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