Missouri's Obamacare Challenge Goes National

“A vote of no legal significance in the midst of heavy Republican primaries” is how hyper-partisan White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs last week dismissed Missouri’s resounding (71%) vote for Proposition C. The measure, which proponents say is the first shot in the war of the states against Obamacare, would deny government the power to mandate that citizens purchase health insurance.

GOP State Rep. John Diehl, an author of the Missouri proposition, responded to Gibbs’ remarks: “Only someone who is in major denial or is insulated in the Washington Beltway can say something like that.”

At the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in San Diego, the talk was all about Proposition C’s success and how other states could adapt similar measures, Diehl and other participants told Human Events.

Because this election year is so far along, it is likely that voters in only the two states that have already qualified their versions for their ballot, Arizona and Oklahoma, will able to vote on a Missouri-style measure this fall.

But a passage of their measures by similar margins is almost certain to generate more ballot proposals in other states in 2011—and keep the issue of mandated health insurance alive and well for the 2012 presidential election.

More Missouri Coming

Despite strong opposition of close Obama ally Democratic Gov. Brad Henry, Oklahoma’s legislature resoundingly approved Senate Joint Resolution 59, which will permit Sooner State voters to decide in November whether they want to be forced to purchase health insurance. Co-sponsored by State Sen. Dan Newberry (R.-Tulsa) and State Rep. Mike Thompson (R.-Oklahoma City), “59” had strong bipartisan support and passed the state house 88-9.

In Arizona, the Taxpayer Freedom Alliance was the driving force behind securing a November ballot position for the Healthcare Freedom Act. Like the Missouri and Oklahoma versions, Arizona’s proposal would set the stage for a court challenge to the federal healthcare act by denying government the right to mandate that citizens purchase healthcare. Reached while he was attending a Republican National Committee meeting in Kansas City, Arizona GOP Chairman Randy Pullen told Human Events: “We [the state Republican Party] are behind the Healthcare Freedom Act and it is generating a lot of enthusiasm among the grass-roots.”

There had been an opportunity for a fourth ballot test of Obamacare in Florida. Earlier this year, the Republican-run state legislature approved a measure for the November ballot that would have prohibited the state from participating in any health insurance exchange that compels people to buy insurance. But two weeks ago, it was tossed off the ballot by a Circuit Court judge who called its wording “manifestly misleading.” (The judge, James Shelfer, had been elevated to the Circuit Court by liberal Republican-turned-liberal Independent Gov. Charlie Crist).

State Atty. Gen. and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bill McCollum announced he was “disappointed” in Shelfer’s ruling because he wanted the referendum to “make it very clear that we do not approve of Obamacare.

Dismiss Proposition C At Your Own Risk

Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, one of the key advisors in the winning campaign behind Proposition C, was also attending the ALEC meeting of conservative state legislators. Along with Diehl, he emphasized that the measure was enacted against strong odds and determined opposition.

“The people behind ‘C’ were probably outspent by 5 to1, with the state Medical Association firmly against it,” Kinder told Human Events. “But the measure not only passed overwhelming, it carried all but two counties in the state. That means there’s a far amount of frustration, anger, and outrage over Obamacare.”

Both Diehl and Kinder agree that this outrage will be felt in Oklahoma and Arizona this November, and in other states in the future. Again referring to dismissive remarks of Obama’s top spokesman about his state’s vote, Diehl said: “If Gibbs really believes what he said, then he’s in for a rude awakening soon.”