A bill officially dubbed the Idaho Health Freedom Act promises a court challenge to any federal effort to mandate health coverage by barring state officials from enforcing health insurance coverage mandates.
Rep. Jim Clark's bill, with urging from both Tea Party and state GOP players, would empower the Idaho Attorney General's Office to fight national health-coverage mandates on a state's right basis.
“Citizens should have the right to pay directly for health-care services with their own money,” Clark told the House State Affairs Committee this morning.
The bill, HB 391, could cost up to $100,000 for an extra attorney, which Clark indicated was a small price to pay: “I think our rights are even worth more than $100,000 per year … so it could cost us that," Clark said.
Listen to committee debate on the bill.
While the bill certainly applies to personal and business insurance coverage mandates, Clark indicated it would make a single-payer system unconstitutional as well.
“Single-payer systems like in Canada make it illegal for citizens to go outside of the government health-care plan and contract for their own medical services. House Bill 391 will make this fundamental provision of single-payer health care unconstitutional,” he testified.
Besides the fact that Canadians can choose to buy private health care, single-payer advocates also oppose personal mandates.
“Single payer is not a mandate, basically it’s Medicare for everybody,” said Lou Schlickman, a Meridian physician and single-payer advocate. “We’re not into the mandate plan at all ... because when the government says, 'here take this government handout and use it to buy private health insurance,' that’s one step closer to Fascism.”
A single-payer plan would eliminate the need to pay for private insurance by providing a Medicare-like plan to everyone, but an American version would almost surly allow Idahoans to buy any supplemental insurance they'd like with their own money.
Would the Health Freedom Act apply to such a system? The answer is that it does not matter, because the bill and the response from Democrats is a political, not a policy statement.
Idaho GOP Executive Director Jonathan Parker testified that the State Central Committee unanimously supported the concept earlier in the month, including opposition to mandatory immunizations. The bill was co-sponsored by two fellow Republicans: First Congressional District candidate Rep. Raul Labrador and Rep. Lynn Luker.
The five Democrats on the committee voted against the bill, even though mandates for coverage can be easily understood as an Obama administration handout to insurance companies.
Boise Rep. Phylis King argued that something needs to be done about health-care costs in the United States; she objected to the references to sovereignty and states rights that are littered throughout the bill.
“By the way, last I looked, Idaho is a part of this nation,” King reminded the State Affairs Committee. “We need to work with the federal government because this needs to be a nationwide solution and we can’t just say no to everything. Sovereignty is no and I want to say yes to a better life for our citizens, and this is not the way to go.”
UPDATE: Interesting read at The Political Game about the compulsory health coverage that Idaho already mandates ...