- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration are still feeling the euphoria after establishing a federal role in dictating health care coverage. Enacting an unpopular new law in the face of solid Republican opposition may have demonstrated broad legislative power, but the administration’s deafness to public opinion may prove to be Obamacare’s undoing.

So far, lawmakers representing half the country have introduced legislation that would exempt residents from the federal health care mandates. Governors in Idaho, Utah and Virginia were the first to sign such measures into law. “No resident of this Commonwealth … shall be required to obtain or maintain a policy of individual insurance coverage except as required by a court,” Virginia’s new law states. “No provision of this title shall render a resident of this Commonwealth liable for any penalty, assessment, fee or fine as a result of his failure to procure or obtain health insurance coverage.” These statutes are primarily designed to assist in state-level efforts to challenge Obamacare mandates in federal court.

The Missouri General Assembly yesterday decided to try a slightly different approach, giving final approval to a first-of-its-kind statewide referendum on Obamacare. That means voters will take to the ballot box and decide whether to nullify any law that would “compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer or health care provider to participate in any health care system.”

Missouri state Sen. Jane Cunningham, the Health Care Freedom Act’s primary sponsor, credited the Tea Party movement for pushing the issue through the state Senate 26-8 and the state House 108-47. “We’ve got a very active grass-roots patriot uprising in Missouri, and they’ve been very active in passing this,” Mrs. Cunningham told The Washington Times. “My guess is that turnout will be pretty heavy because there is so much angst over what is coming down from over there in Washington.”

Show Me State Democrats feared the impact of energizing Republican turnout when close congressional races are on the line. Theyused their filibuster power in the state Senate to ensure the referendum vote would take place in August during the primary and not the November general election. About 2.9 million voters took part in the last general election but only 755,000 in the last primary. Placing health care on the ballot is likely to draw enthusiastic participation from voters excited for the chance to make their voices heard in a meaningful way.

This voice needs to be heard. By fining people who fail to purchase a health insurance coverage package deemed acceptable to federal authorities, Obamacare oversteps the limits on federal powers set by the Constitution. It is a testament to the health of our democracy that so many states are fighting back - even more so now that the public will have the chance to take part in the effort. Opinion surveys based on a few hundred people are one thing, but perhaps the message will get through when nearly a million people pass their judgment on the federal plan. Can Obamacare survive a vote? Not a chance.

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