WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the nation's largest individual membership association of state legislators, congratulates Montana State Senators Jim Shockley and Greg Hinkle for announcing their intent to introduce a constitutional amendment to protect the right of individuals to make their own health care choices. Montana now becomes the 20th state where legislators have introduced, or will introduce, legislation modeled after ALEC's Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act. The formal announcement will occur on Thursday, November 5 at Noon on the Yellowstone County Courthouse lawn at 217 N. 27th Street, in Billings.
"We all recognize the need to help make medical care and health insurance more affordable and accessible for more people," said Iowa Representative Linda Upmeyer, minority whip, family nurse practitioner, and chair of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force. "However, creating new mandates for individuals and employers will not reduce costs or increase competition, it will trample on the rights of individuals to make their own health care choices and hurt our economy," she added.
The Montana constitutional amendment preserves the rights of individuals to pay directly for medical care -- something not allowed in single-payer countries like Canada -- and prohibits any individual from being penalized for not purchasing government-defined insurance. Any state attempt to require an individual to purchase health insurance -- or forbid an individual from purchasing services outside of the required health care system -- would be rendered unconstitutional. The measure may also cause a federalism clash if Congress passes a law with either of these provisions.
"This is not a battle that hasn't been fought before or won before," said Christie Herrera, health policy director for the American Legislative Exchange Council, a state legislator group coordinating the effort.
"States are allowed to give greater constitutional protection than what is provided for in the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution provides a floor, not a ceiling, for the preservation of individual rights," Herrera added.
Montana now joins legislators in eight states (AK, GA, KS, LA, MO, MS, NH, and UT) that have already publicly announced their intention to file legislation to protect their citizens from any health care mandates. Another 11 states have already filed or pre-filed similar legislation (AZ, FL, IN, MN, ND, NM, MI, OH, PA, WV, WY). Arizona's measure, which passed the legislature in June, will be put before voters on the 2010 ballot.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is the nation's largest nonpartisan, individual membership organization of state legislators.
SOURCE American Legislative Exchange Council