Florida judge removes proposed healthcare amendment from ballot

A Florida judge knocked a GOP-backed healthcare amendment off the November ballot, calling its wording "manifestly misleading," the Associated Press reports. The proposed constitutional amendment would prohibit the state from participating in any health insurance exchange that requires people to buy insurance or be penalized if they don't.

The ballot summary said the amendment would "ensure access to healthcare services without waiting lists, protect the doctor/patient relationship," and "guard against mandates that don't work."

Circuit Judge James Shelfer said in a ruling that the wording might make voters think they will never have to wait in a doctor's office again if the amendment passed. He also noted that the actual proposed amendment does not guarantee any of those things.

"Someone voting on the amendment, reading those introductory statements would have a false understanding of what they were voting on," he said in a ruling from the bench.

The Republican-controlled legislature passed the proposal as an attempt to block part of the national healthcare overhaul.

Because federal law always holds more sway than state law, experts said the measure was doomed from the start. he amendment was modeled after the American Legislative Exchange Council's Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act, which has been proposed in 42 states. If approved by Florida voters, it would prohibit the state from enacting a state-level, Massachusetts-style mandate if the federal law is ruled unconstitutional.

A spokeswoman for Florida's secretary of state said they plan to appeal the judge's ruling.

Attorney General Bill McCollum who wanted to keep the state healthcare amendment on the ballot is suing the federal government to block the national health overhaul.

To learn more:
- read the Associated Press article in Bloomberg Businessweek 
- check out this Miami Herald article
- see the press release from the American Legislative Exchange Council