The Idaho Senate Monday approved legislation that would tell Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to outlaw portions of the recently approved federal health care legislation. The joint memorial Idaho lawmakers could send to Congress would prevent the federal government from requiring U.S. citizens to buy health insurance or fine them for not having health care coverage. The memorial in some ways mirrors the Idaho Health Freedom Act, which would exempt the state from the federal health coverage mandate.
Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, said the new federal health care laws will affect Idahoans. “The provisions in that act are so onerous and the consequences are so devastating,” he said. Cameron, who is an insurance broker, said the unintended consequences could lead health care rates to rise by 20 percent a year. He also said people can’t buy auto insurance after a crash or home insurance while their house is on fire, but the federal government would create a similar system for buying health insurance.
Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, debated against the proposed constitutional amendment. She said that while she doesn’t support all parts of the federal mandate, it could lower the state’s $33 million payment for catastrophic health care for people unable to pay for services. “When people’s health suffers, we pay one way or another,” she said.
Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, said the federal plan would end up increasing the national deficit. “It creates that overwhelming debt that we pass on as our legacy to our children and our children’s children,” he said. “This is one small way to say ‘enough.’”
The joint memorial now heads to the House. Read IdahoReporter.com’s first story on the proposed amendment here. The text of the memorial is available here.