Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure Tuesday to nullify a provision in the new federal health care law that requires people to purchase health insurance, marking the first time Americans have voted on repealing the legislation since it was enacted in March.
Roughly 71 percent voted in favor of the ballot measure, Proposition C, which would stop the U.S. government from requiring residents either to get the insurance or to pay a penalty.
With the midterm elections just three months away, the first-of-a-kind vote showed the dissatisfaction of voters with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and gives momentum to efforts in Congress to repeal the legislation.
The vote also marked another battleground in defining the roles of the state and federal government, like the battle in Arizona over immigration law.
Missouri already faces a $730 million budget deficit. And when the provision takes effect in 2014, enrollment in Medicaid and the federal Children's Health Insurance Program will have increased by roughly 31 percent, which could cost the state an additional $524.4 million by 2020, according to the Heritage Action for America advocacy group.
"Voters were afraid Obamacare would increase costs, decrease care, and get between them and their doctors," said Michael A. Needham, Heritage Action's chief executive officer.
However, the impact of the vote is uncertain because the courts could like intervene before the provision takes effect in three years.
State legislatures in Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana and Virginia have passed statutes similar to Proposition C. Voters in Arizona and Oklahoma are set to vote on the issue in November as a state constitutional amendment.
Critics said the measure passed in Missouri because of the large turnout of Republican voters and "tea party" members.
Missouri voters Tuesday also picked Democrat Robin Carnahan and Republican Rep. Roy Blount to compete in November for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Christopher S. Bond.
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