PRO: Prop C would send a strong message

Sunday, July 25, 2010

By Carl Bearden

On Aug. 3, all eyes in the nation will turn toward Missouri as voters in the Show Me State become the first anywhere to cast a ballot concerning the federal health care plan foisted upon them. A yes vote on Proposition C -- the Health Care Freedom Act -- will tell the nation that Missourians have looked at this expensive, ill-conceived and unhealthy measure and reject it.

Indeed, there is more at stake than health care. The ballot initiative also represents a referendum on state sovereignty. Quite simply, United for Missouri believes that the federal health care package pushed by the president and supported by the Democratic Congress treads on states' rights. It's a mandate on individuals and states that goes beyond proscribed federal powers.

The federal health care legislation sets the nation back in three key ways.

First, it mandates that every American buy health insurance, or face stiff tax penalties.

Second, employer-paid programs would be mandated, which would lead to job losses, wage cuts, loss of employer plans and accompanying choice of doctors or higher prices, all of which threaten the still struggling economy.

Third, the government, rather than patients and their doctors would determine the level of care to be provided.

The full scope of the health care legislation remains largely unknown. There is a reason leaders in Congress said, "We have to pass it to know what's in it." We already know it will cost more than we were told. The bill represents a legal outline, and regulators are still working out the devil in the details. One thing is for sure: Such single-payer health care plans, where the government determines the level and scope of care, negatively impact quality of care and life compared to what we have today.

The Health Care Freedom Act is fairly straightforward. It would prohibit any individual or employer from being penalized for not buying government-defined health insurance. The Missouri attorney general must be prepared to protect Missouri citizens from any overreaching of federal control over health care and has the authority and responsibility to defend any citizen prosecuted for not buying federally mandated insurance.

It's also important to understand what Prop C doesn't do. It does not seek to overturn the federal health care package, nor does it prevent individuals from taking part in it.

Admittedly, part of Prop C is symbolic. A yes vote would send a message not only to Washington rejecting a single-payer government health care program, but to Missouri legislators that such a system is unwanted here.

Perhaps most importantly, Prop C would send a strong message to Missouri attorney general Chris Koster, whose record so far on the federal health care package has been disappointing.

First, Koster refused to join attorneys general in other states seeking to overturn parts of the federal health care law and standing for state sovereignty. Second, Koster has intervened in a suit filed by Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who has joined Missouri citizens in filing a suit funded with private dollars that challenges the federal legislation.

Missourians need the Health Care Freedom Act if for no other reason than to help convince our attorney general that doing the right thing means stopping this blatant intrusion into individual and state rights.

Carl Bearden is executive director of United for Missouri, a Springfield-based organization seeking to educate and mobilize citizens about the impact of economic policies on their lives.

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