St. Louis Public Radio News
6:20 pm
Tue March 16, 2010

Mo. House passes health care resolution

Jefferson City, Mo. – A proposed constitutional amendment that would block mandatory participation in a government-run health care system has passed the Missouri House.

The resolution would not allow fines or penalties to be levied against employers and individuals who opt out of insurance coverage and pay for their own health care.

GOP House members say they're "drawing a line in the sand" in opposing federal health care legislation requiring health coverage for most Americans.

State Representative Cynthia Davis (R, O'Fallon, MO) maintained that Democrats in Congress are seeking to take over the nation's health care industry.

"You know, the national government is strutting around like a big bully, and unless we say, 'no,' we're gonna get hurt," Davis said.

Opponents, including Minority Floor Leader Paul LeVota (D, Independence) argued that the resolution would favor insurance companies over patients.

"The objection is that we don't follow a health care bill that is still being debated in Congress that basically, to the root of it, reforms insurance companies...this should be called 'The insurance company protection constitution amendment!'" Levota said.

Constitutional experts, meanwhile, say it's highly unlikely that any state can opt out of a federal law. Twenty-five Democrats joined House Republicans in passing it today.

The resolution now goes to the Missouri Senate, which is considering a similar measure. If it passes both chambers, it would go before Missouri voters in November.