March 12th, 2010
02:16 PM ET

Are states able to overrule the federal health care guidelines?

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."

Bottom Line:

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.

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Filed under: Fact Check • Health Care
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. JP

    If you haven't read the bill, you shouldn't be commenting on issues or parts of the bill. All most of you have to go on is 'talking points'. Google H.R. 3590 and at least attempt to learn something about it before bloviating either way. It creates so many government layers that will approve, disapprove, allow, disallow, mandate, etc. health insurance decisions on us that you only THINK you will be getting free or affordable health insurance.

    Any time you think that I or another American should pay for YOUR health insurance, that is called socialism. You are not owed anything by society, not social justice, not affordable housing, not free health care, nothing. We give charitable donations out of the goodness of our hearts, we shouldn't legislate mandatory charity to the clueless, lazy, or just plain helpless. Move to Venezuela or Cuba if you want others to provide you with social amenities that you don't work for on your own.

    March 16, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ann

    This is government take over at its finest My Family and I are so very discussed we can't believe what these crooks in Washington DC are doing to our American system. O bama, , Nancy .Pelosi. to name a few are brow beating everyone to vote for this very expensive health care bill when every one is about to go broke i in this economy It doesn't make sense right now unless they have a hidden agenda of government take over on all Americans

    March 17, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tony B.

    The federal government can play hardball too. They could just say, "OK, you don't want federal government regulated insurance, fine. We will abolish Medicare for the seniors in your state"

    March 18, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
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