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Democrat-controlled Senate resists federal health insurance requirement

Anne Bartlett

BREAKING: The Democrat-controlled Virginia Senate has passed a bill on a 23 to 17 vote making it illegal to require an individual to purchase health insurance, a direct challenge to the party's efforts in Washington to reform health care. More to come.

By Anne Bartlett  |  February 1, 2010; 1:01 PM ET
Categories:  2010 legislative session , Rosalind Helderman  
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That's fine AS LONG AS they also make it legal to deny medical care to anyone who shows up at a doctor's office or hospital who cannot show proof of insurance or the ability to pre-pay for medical services. Because we know that otherwise, the bill is just sent to the taxpayer as a public subsidy to the hospital/medical provider.

And I won't hold my breath for that to happen.

Posted by: B-rod | February 1, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

B-rod's point is worth noting: Taxpayers are currently paying for medical care for the uninsured, partly through subsidies and partly through increased insurance premiums. Because the costs are distributed and no one's sure who's paying for what, there's no way to control the costs. If, however, we had a single payer national health system, there would at least be some opportunities for cost control.

Posted by: jlhare1 | February 1, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I guess no one in the Senate bothered to read any of the number of Supreme Court decisions affirming the Supremacy Clause. I would start with Edgar vs. Mite Corporation.

Posted by: BurtReynolds | February 1, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I agree with another poster here. How is it fair to those responsible people who forego widescreen TVs and Cruise vacations in order to pay and save for insurance (which has a growing price tag as each year goes by), for people who do not pay for insurance to get urgent and basic care? It makes me so angry.

While I don't think it's "right" to force people to pay for insurance, Americans are more concerned with tickle me elmo availability than they are with careful life planning in general. That is why this bill is designed to require full participation.

Posted by: FiatBooks | February 1, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I think the big picture is missed in this one. First, Supreme Court decisions should not be used to determine everything. The Tenth Amendment clearly gives Virginia the right to do this. Secondly, the hypocratic oath requires doctors to save someone's life if it is in jeapordy.

Posted by: digitalslckerdotcom | February 1, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

It's not just taxpayers who pay for the uninsured. It is also those who have insurance. Health insurance companies are also tapped in many states to pay into such coverage. Guess where they get the money to do so?

Posted by: seahawkdad | February 1, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Its a bit different when you have case law dating back to 1819 establishing the precedent.

Posted by: BurtReynolds | February 1, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Green political sympathizer and liberal Democrat so the Virginia state senate has been hijacked by the nonsense tea party people because it passed a bill which would make mandatory health care reform coverage illegal. With so many Republicans, the Virginia legislature has unfortunately turned into the tea party people legislature where they talk about the greatness of freedom but they don't like freedom.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | February 1, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

So people in Virgina who don't have health insurance won't get medical treatment? Well they do NOW and despite what the Va senate says they will continue to get it.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | February 1, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

BurtReynolds, the Supremacy Clause only applies if the conflicting federal statute is itself constitutional (see McCulloch v. Maryland, which you allude). That is, state action may not impede VALID CONSTITUTIONAL exercises of power by the federal government. It's debatable whether the federal government has the constitutional authority to require all individuals to purchase health insurance.

Either way, you're correct that the act of the Virginia legislature has little effect other than determining who may have standing to bring a suit. On one hand, if the federal law is not constitutional then the state law prohibiting the requirement is not necessary. On the other hand, if the requirement is constitutional, the Supremacy Clause says that the federal law trumps the state law prohibiting the federal requirement.

Posted by: dsmooth | February 2, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm very glad my home state Senate has sent this reproach to Washington.

Requiring people to buy health care insurance without providing a low-cost PUBLIC OPTION is literally delivering new customers to the private insurance company profiteers at gunpoint.

If you don't buy from the profiteers, under the forced-purchase requirement now being considered by Congress, the whole weight of federal law enforcement will come down on you: fines, garnishment, possibly criminal penalties for resistance.

The idea of giving public subsidies to poor people which they will be required by law to turn over to the private insurance industry is simply disgusting. That money should be used to subsidize free federal clinics for the poor, not to further line the private insurance industry's pockets.

Posted by: ankhorite | February 2, 2010 2:08 AM | Report abuse

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