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Five Democrats join Republicans in voting against mandated health insurance purchases

Rosalind Helderman

The debate on the Senate floor today over three measures that would each prohibit requiring Virginians to purchase health-care insurance was vigorous. In the end, five Democrats joined 18 Republicans in supporting the measure. They were: Sen. Charles J. Colgan (Prince William), Sen. R. Edward Houck (Spotsylvania), John C. Miller (Newport News), Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (Russell), Sen. William Roscoe Reynolds (Franklin).

Supporters argued that the bill was not about health-care reform but whether the government can mandate that a citizen purchase anything. "If they can mandate this, they can mandate anything," said Sen. Frederick M. Quayle (R-Chesapeake), sponsor of one measure.

Some opponents argued that the bill might prevent courts from ordering that spouses provide health care coverage in divorce settlements. Others argued that an individual mandate is an important piece of federal efforts to reform health care.

The debate featured the first floor speech of substance from former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath). He argued that federal law will preempt the measure and that it was a waste of time for a body that must contend with unemployment and a $4 billion state budget shortfall.

But this afternoon, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) said that such a law could help him argue that the state has standing to intervene in a potential lawsuit against the federal government, should Congress pass a bill including an individual mandate. "If nothing else," he said, "it only helps. It can't hurt."

By Rosalind Helderman  |  February 1, 2010; 3:25 PM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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Errata: Senator Reynolds does not live in Franklin, nor does his district include Franklin County. He lives in Henry County.

Posted by: jeffersonian1 | February 1, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

If government can't mandate citizens pay for anything-- I guess Virginia should stop mandating drivers pay for car insurance or face a state-sponsored fee?

Posted by: BJRWC4 | February 1, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

BJRWC4, if I don't want to buy car insurance then I don't have to own a car.

If I don't want to pay income taxes then I don't work. If I don't want to pay property taxes then I don't buy property.

Right now if I don't want to buy health insurance I don't have to; the federal government requiring someone to do that is a serious infringement on personal rights.

You can't force people to pay for something when they've done nothing to warrant it.

Posted by: alan8228 | February 2, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

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