State Leaders Plan to Fight Federal Health Reform

5192097A Louisiana state representative plans to introduce a constitutional amendment to shield the state from being forced to accept any federal health care reform, according to reports. It is the latest example of state legislatures taking health care matters into their own hands in response to national health care reform efforts.

"What the bill does if you read it, the Senate version too, it would penalize employers," Republican state Rep. Kirk Talbot said, according to WWLTV, a CBS affiliate. "They would charge 8 percent tax on your state payroll if you don't participate in the plan, so that is clearly a penalty and a fine, and that's something this constitutional amendment would hopefully be able to blunt."

A Democrat in the state legislature said the measure was premature, given that Congress has not finalized its health care bill, and that the measure would adversely affect Medicare and Medicaid in Louisiana.

Talbot reportedly said he was following other states' leads.

Indeed, in July, two Republican Florida state representatives proposed a state constitutional amendment to prevent state residents from being forced to sign up for health care. Like the Louisiana measure, the Florida amendment would have to be approved by voters in a 2010 vote.

"We believe this unprecedented power-grab by President Obama and Congress is clearly not in the best interests of the citizens of Florida," Florida State Senator Carey Baker and State Representative Scott Plakon said in a joint statement.

The Arizona legislature in June also approved a ballot measure that would nullify any federal "individual mandate" for health care in the state.

Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry also said in a recent radio interview that he would invoke the 10th Amendment to resist national health care reform.

"I think you'll hear states and governors standing up and saying 'no' to this type of encroachment on the states with their healthcare," Perry said. "So my hope is that we never have to have that stand-up. But I'm certainly willing and ready for the fight if this administration continues to try to force their very expansive government philosophy down our collective throats."

Texas has a higher percentage of uninsured people, at 25 percent, than any other state, the Star-Telegram points out.

Earlier this year, Perry refused federal stimulus funds for unemployment benefits but then asked for a federal loan to cover the very expenses the rejected stimulus money would have paid for.