Ward, Hill co-sponsoring bill to allow Alabamians to vote on new federal health care mandate

Published 2:50 pm Monday, March 22, 2010

In response to the newly passed federal health care legislation, a bill in the Alabama House of Representatives would allow Alabamians the chance to vote on whether they want to participate in the federal mandate.

House Bill 498, co-sponsored by Reps. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster; Mike Hill, R-Columbiana; and Blaine Galliher, R-Etowah, was established under the idea of the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Ward said Congress and the federal government has long hidden behind the 10th Amendment’s commerce clause, but through issues such as gun control, court rulings have increasingly rolled back many previous decisions in favor of the federal government.

“We think this is an overreach of the commerce clause,” Ward said. “It’s an overreach of the federal government into people’s personal lives.”

Ward said the states already have enough problems picking up the financial deficits left behind by federal programs such as Medicaid, and the current federal health care mandate will only increase that burden.

“This is going to expand on that tremendously over the next decade,” Ward said.

Ward said he hopes to have the bill on the ballot in November.

In addition to rising costs for hospitals and health care workers, Hill said he expects the federal legislation will increase individuals’ insurance premiums by as much as 60 percent.

“It can’t happen without raising premiums,” Hill said. “No insurance company can survive under this new legislation without raising premiums.

“It’s going to be devastating for everyone involved,” he added. “I hate to see it bankrupt this country.”

Under the current system, Hill said people still have the right to health care. Those who are indigent, he said, can simply check in at an emergency room and they are not going to be turned away.

Under the new federal mandate, Hill said indigent people will still have those same rights, but it will be the taxpayers’ who foot the bill for expanded medical coverage.

“I don’t like the idea that we’re going to have to pay for someone else’s insurance,” Hill said.

Alabama Attorney General Troy King has even joined in the fight, saying he will go to court, with attorney generals from other states, to fight the federal health care legislation.

“The actions of the attorney general will be helpful,” Ward said.