Rep. Hill: State lawmakers doing ‘everything possible’ to fight federal health care overhaul

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

The state House of Representatives on April 5 passed a bill by a 67-28 vote that could eventually allow state residents the chance to opt out of a federally mandated health care system.

If House Bill 60 passes through the Senate, then Alabama residents would vote on whether to amend the state’s constitution “to prohibit any person, employer, or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system.”

State Rep. Mike Hill, R-Columbiana, called the federal health care reform law an “intrusive bill.”

“We’re trying to do everything possible to get out from under the Obamacare bill in Washington,” Hill said after Tuesday’s vote. “This is one of the first steps that is going to be required to protect the citizens of Alabama.”

House Bill 60 failed to garner the 63 required votes on March 24, when the House voted in favor of the bill with a 59-28 vote.

Hill called it a “tactical mistake.”

The vote was taken late on a Thursday afternoon, Hill said, after several representatives had left for the day without realizing a vote was going to take place.

“We made sure everybody was here this time,” Hill said.

For Alabama residents to vote on the issue, at least 21 of 35 senators would have to vote in favor of it.

“I think it’ll pass by a good margin,” state Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, said of a vote in the senate.

Alabama voters have never had a say about federal health care reform, Ward said.

“I think having a referendum on the ballot, particularly during a presidential election, would really allow voters to express their sentiment about how people in Alabama feel about it,” Ward added.

Through the federal legislation, the federal government “has shifted to the state a huge financial burden,” Ward said.

“The federal government can run deficits and have deficit spending,” Ward added. “We in the state can’t. It’s going to be a huge backbreaker for so many state governments around the country. We just can’t afford it.”