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Marshall to propose 'healthcare freedom' constitutional amendment

Rosalind Helderman

With health care the hot topic in Washington, it should be no surprise there is likely to be an equally vigorous debate on the issue in Richmond when the General Assembly meets in January. It should also come as no surprise that Del. Bob Marshall, one of the body's most creative conservative minds, has some thoughts about how Virginia's General Assembly could best go about resisting President Obama's health insurance initiatives.

Marshall believes Obama's real goal is a socialist single-payer system. He believes it is unconstitutional for the government to mandate, at risk of penalty, that all individuals have insurance or that companies provide insurance for employees, as contemplated in bills being considered by the U.S. House and Senate. He notes contract law has long provided that contracts cannot be signed under duress.

"If that's not duress, then I don't know what is," he said of the mandates.

His solution: Make it easier for Virginians to sue the federal government over the mandate, if it is imposed.

Marshall plans to propose a bill and accompanying amendment to the Virginia Constitution reaffirming "healthcare freedom" for residents. It would be written purposely to conflict with the federal law, making it easier for Virginians to sue the federal government over the mandate if it is passed.

A draft of Marshall's proposed constitutional amendment--he's still working out the exact language--reads as follows:

No law may restrict a person's natural right and power of contract to secure the blessings of liberty to choose private health care systems or private plans. No law shall interfere with the right of a person or entity to pay for lawful medical services to preserve life and or health, nor shall any law impose a penalty, tax, fee, or fine, of any type, to decline or to contract for health care coverage or to participate in any particular health care system or plan, except as required by a court where an individual or entity is a named party in a judicial dispute.

As reported this morning by Virginia political scientist Bob Holsworth on his blog Virginia Tomorrow, Marshall said he does indeed plan to talk about the idea in detail with colleagues at the Republican Advance this weekend.

He's got other health care ideas as well, including a proposal to study withdrawing Virginia from Medicaid altogether and another to discuss ways to reduce hospital errors.

It's hard to know whether Marshall's proposal will catch fire with colleagues, though it's likely Republicans will be looking for some way to show their opposition to the Democrat's health care proposals.

Marshall's also got some powerful help on his side: He's said he's been working on the legislation with attorney Pat McSweeney, who previously challenged the state's right to establish regional authorities to raise money for transportation. Now, McSweeney is serving as a leader of Sen. Ken Cuccinelli's attorney general transition team. Marshall's proposal would receive a major boost if the state attorney general were to sign on.

And Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell has said he too opposes Obama's proposals and may well be intrigued at the idea of a form of legislative resistance. Marshall said Cuccinelli has said he is interested in his idea and has told him McDonnell is also interested in looking at the health insurance issue this year.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 30, 2009; 3:56 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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hmm, seems like this comes dangerously close to saying healthcare is a right....or the free, private access to it is. that is part of the problem.

also, isn't this essentially the whole argument the pro-choice crowd is making. keep your laws off my body? i thought these two quixotic folks liked to pass laws telling others what medical processes they can cannot seek....

Posted by: rc51 | December 1, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

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