Bill Seeks to Give Delawareans More Freedom Over Healthcare Choices
Announcement made on anniversary of the enactment of 'Obamacare'
For Immediate Release: March 23, 2011
For More Information: Joe Fulgham (302) 744-4184
On the one-year anniversary of the enactment of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), State Rep. Deborah Hudson (R-Fairthorne) has unveiled a bill intended to preserve the right of Delawareans to make their own healthcare decisions.
The Delaware Health Freedom Act specifies that Delawareans are free to choose, or decline to choose, all healthcare services, without penalty or threat of penalty.
"The federal government does not have the legal authority to mandate that citizens purchase healthcare coverage, yet that.s exactly what it.s done," Rep. Hudson said.
The Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that powers not granted to the federal government, nor prohibited to the states, are reserved to the states and individual citizens.
"Obamacare is the worst kind of legislation,"Rep. Hudson said. "It not only tries to extend the power of the federal government into the most basic and private decisions of our families, it does so through coercive actions that attempt to bully people into submission."
Supporters of the bill say it has two core objectives: to preserve Delawareans. freedom of choice in matters of healthcare; and defend Delaware.s right to govern its own citizens.
"Under this bill, our residents would have free will to join the government plan, continue with their private healthcare coverage, or pay for their healthcare out of their own pocket . without the threat of being intimidated into a decision by the federal government," Rep. Hudson said.
Modeled after legislation successfully enacted in Arizona, the Delaware Health Freedom Act would¡¦
. provide standing to a state participating in current litigation against the federal mandate to force citizens to buy healthcare coverage;
. allow a state to launch additional 10th-Amendment-based litigation if the current lawsuits fail; and
. empower a state attorney general to litigate on behalf of individuals harmed by the mandate once it goes into effect in 2014.
Rep. Hudson said the legislation is identical to House Bill 353, which died in the House Administration Committee last year. The committee is composed solely of House leaders and was defeated along a party-line vote of 3-to-2. Speaker of the House Bob Gilligan (D-Sherwood Park), State House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) and State House Majority Whip Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) all voted against allowing the bill to move to the floor for open debate.
"A lot has happened since then,"Rep. Hudson said.
Since the start of 2010, 43 states have either introduced or announced bills similar to the Delaware Health Freedom Act. According to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) . which has been a leader in the fight against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act . six states (Virginia, Idaho, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, and Missouri) have enacted such legislation, and two states (Arizona and Oklahoma) have adopted it as part of their state constitutions.
Additionally, 26 states are suing the federal government over the issue of unconstitutional mandates and the U.S. House of Representatives voted in January to repeal Obamacare.
ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force Director Christie Herrera said Obamacare is a flawed piece of legislation, noting that although the law is nearly three years away from being fully implemented, the federal government has already granted over 700 waivers.
"In refusing to let this bill be debated by the full House, Rep. Schwartzkopf said he didn't think Delaware needed to get involved because other states were taking action and we could ride their coattails," Rep. Hudson said. "That thinking is not only incredibly shortsighted, it also violates our oath as state representatives to .respect the rights of future generations. and .uphold and defend the constitutions. of our country and state."
State House Minority Whip Gerald Hocker (R-Ocean View) points out there is a profound economic aspect to Obamacare that could have grave implications for the state and all Delaware taxpayers.
Delaware will spend approximately $600 million in the upcoming budget to pay for the state.s share of Medicaid . a state-federal partnership to provide healthcare to low and medium income residents. "Medicaid expenses have been one of the leading budget drivers for our state in recent years," Rep. Hocker said.
According to information supplied by Gov. Jack Markell.s office, Medicaid expenses have increased by 120-percent over the last 10 years and are expected to jump by more than $50 million in the budget that takes effect July 1st.
"To comply with the new regulations, 33 states will see their Medicaid rolls jump by 20 to 30 percent and some states will see their Medicaid rolls jump by 50 percent or more,¡± said ALEC.s Christie Herrera. ¡°And because of the .maintenance of effort. requirement, which prevents states from cutting Medicaid eligibility, states will be forced to either cut funding in other areas, reduce Medicaid benefits for existing enrollees, and/or raise taxes."
Rep. Hocker said most people don.t yet realize the financial impact Obamacare is going to have on their families, both in higher taxes and mandated medical coverage. "It won.t be fully phased-in until 2014 and many of the regulations for how it.ll be implemented are still being written," he said. "According to published figures, if this is left unchecked, it.ll result in more than $600 billion in new or increased taxes within the next 10 years. That doesn.t even take into account the higher cost of goods and services because of the healthcare expenses businesses will be forced to pass along to their customers. We need to protect our citizens by enacting the Delaware Healthcare Freedom Act."
Rep. Hudson said killing her bill in committee last year was an act of cowardice that should not be repeated.
"This bill should be debated on the floor and voted up or down on its merits. What trumped-up excuse is there for not allowing an open debate on this issue? What case could anyone make for opposing an effort to give our citizens the freedom to make their own healthcare choices? If the opponents to this bill have valid arguments, they should not be ducking a discussion by keeping this bill bottled-up in committee. Their obligation to the people they are supposed to be representing should outweigh their loyalty to their party leader on Pennsylvania Ave."