Five Democrats join Republicans in voting against mandated health insurance purchases
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."
February 1, 2010; 3:25 PM ET
Categories: Rosalind Helderman
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