Lawmakers in many states are trying to make it illegal to mandate that everyone buy health insurance - one of the key parts of the Democrats' health care reform efforts in Washington.In Kansas, lawmakers filed a resolution this week that aims to alter the state constitution to do so. State Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook, a co-sponsor of the legislation says, "States have a duty to protect their citizens' liberty."Could these proposed amendments affect health care reform in the nation's capital?
Fact Check: Can state governments overrule federal regulations on health care?
– 31 states have filed or prefiled the Freedom of Choice Health Care Act, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which drafted the act. ALEC supports limited government.
- "It's symbolic opposition," said Robert Schapiro, a constitutional law professor at Emory University. "State governments cannot overrule federal legislation on health care."
- Schapiro also said there has been some discussion about letting states opt out, which would be a different case. "But, if Congress does not give the states the ability to opt out, the states cannot legally do so on their own,"he said.
- Pilcher Cook says that some constitutional law scholars would disagree with Schapiro, because the state or an individual could file a lawsuit. Schapiro responds, "Even without a state law, a person could challenge the federal mandate, and the existence of a state law is essentially irrelevant for federal constitutional purposes."
States must comply with any health care reform that passes in Congress, unless they're allowed to opt out. States would have the option to challenge the mandate in court.