By Marc Kovac
A constitutional amendment to block federal health-care mandates from taking effect in Ohio would threaten existing state programs, including licensing for doctors and insurance agents, a study released Thursday by a liberal research group says.
Columbus-based Innovation Ohio calls state Issue 3 “bad law, bad policy and bad medicine.”
“Putting such a carelessly conceived and sloppily worded amendment into our state constitution would be an unmitigated disaster,” said the group’s spokesman, Dale Butland. “Issue 3 would also spawn so many legal challenges and lawsuits that it could reasonably have been subtitled the Lawyer’s Full Employment Act of 2011.”
Backers of the amendment countered the assertions, however. Meghan Snyder, a spokeswoman for Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom, said in a released statement, “First, they said Issue 3 wouldn’t have an impact. Then, they said it was a ‘pointless’ issue. Now, the liberals of Innovation Ohio are crying foul. But it’s too late — the thousands of Ohioans working to keep forced government healthcare out of Ohio are not deterred by their recycled tactics.”
The constitutional amendment would prohibit any law or rule that forces individuals, employers or health-care providers to buy or sell health care or insurance or levies a fine against those that choose not to participate.
It is directed at the federal health-care-reform package passed last year and supported by President Barack Obama, that included provisions requiring individuals to buy health insurance and companies to provide benefits to their employees, with fines for those who fail to do so.
Innovation Ohio said Thursday that the wording of the constitutional amendment made it more far-reaching than covering the new federal mandates.
The group’s president, Janetta King, said the amendment likely would affect workers’ compensation, school immunization, disease tracking and dozens of other state programs.
King also questioned whether the amendment would hurt licensing requirements for doctors, insurance agents and others involved in the health-care and insurance industries.
“This would essentially make unconstitutional a lot of the medical licensing that we are doing now in the state of Ohio,” she said.
Tom Zawistowski, executive director of the Portage County Tea Party and president of the Ohio Liberty Council, said Innovation Ohio’s opposition isn’t unexpected.
“We clearly understand that there are people who are going to find every possible challenge to this,” he said. “... We believe these challenges are frivolous. ... We wish they would [study] the actual consequences in Obama-care and the damage it’s going to do.”