March 4, 2010
Washington, D.C.- Today Virginia became the first state in the nation to enact legislation to protect their citizens from being forced to purchase health insurance or participate in any health care system against their will. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has identified 37 other states that have similar bills pending or have announced that they will introduce this legislation. Already, at least one house of the legislatures in Idaho, Missouri, and Tennessee have also passed such legislation.
These legislative initiatives are based on ALEC's model Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act. Under the legislation, any state attempt to require an individual to purchase health insurance-or forbid an individual from purchasing services outside of the required health care system-would be rendered unconstitutional. The measure may also cause a federalism clash if Congress passes a law with either of these provisions.
"Control over our own individual health care choices is something most Americans take very personally. It is not surprising that so many state legislators are eager to pass legislation to protect their constituents from any health care mandates, either from the state or federal government," said Christie Herrera, director of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force, which is coordinating the nationwide effort.
"It is urgent for states to take action and protect the liberty of their citizens so they can direct their own health care in the way they see fit. Our history proves it is economic freedom that helped us reduce poverty and provide the good health care we have now. Command-and-control mandates advance destructive behavior on many levels," said Kansas State Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook, sponsor of SCR-1626, Kansas' Health Care Freedom Act.
The Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act has already been filed or prefiled in 33 states-Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Lawmakers in an additional four states-Montana, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Utah-have publicly announced their intentions to file the legislation. A citizen-led initiative has also been announced in Colorado.
A complete map with links to the legislation in each state is available online at www.alec.org.