State Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, last Tuesday filed House Joint Resolution 1, which proposes that the legislature place an amendment on Florida ballots that, if passed, would “prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system,” a challenge to President Obama’s health care reform legislation.
The resolution text states that HJR 1 would “preserve the freedom of all residents of the state to provide for their own health care” and that “the purchase or sale of health insurance in private health care systems may not be prohibited by law or rule.”
This is a direct rebuke of the federal government’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, slated to take effect in 2014 — which would fine employers as well as individuals and families who do not secure health coverage.
In July 2009, Plakon filed HJR 37, a similar measure, which was blocked from appearing on the Nov. 2 ballot by a Leon County judge.
The Miami Herald reported at that time:
Circuit Court Judge James Shelfer said a proposed ballot summary for the amendment contains several phrases that are political and list issues that are not addressed in the proposal.
The first sentence of the summary says the amendment would “ensure access to health care services without waiting lists, protect the doctor-patient relationship, (and) guard against mandates that don’t work.”
Shelfer said the amendment does not guarantee any of those things.
“Someone voting on the amendment, reading those introductory statements would have a false understanding of what they were voting on,” he said in a ruling from the bench.
Critics and even one of its proponents acknowledged at the time that the amendment likely would not affect the national law because U.S. Constitution also contains a “Supremacy Clause” that largely allows federal laws to trump state statutes. But it could have prohibited Florida from enacting a Massachusetts-style healthcare system.
Plakon tells The Florida Independent that Florida citizens have the freedom to make the amendment part of their constitution, adding that he expects there will be a conflict with the federal government if voters approve HJR 1.
The goal is to have the amendment on the ballot in 2012, said Plakon. He believes that the health care reform overhaul, the target of a multi-state federal lawsuit filed by Attorney General Bill McCollum, will still be fresh on voters minds in two years. That means the amendment will be on the ballot at the same time as President Barack Obama. Obama won Florida in 2008 but he has seen his approval ratings in the state plummet since then.