In a mostly symbolic swipe at the Obama administration's healthcare reform law, Missouri voters overwhelmingly opposed the provision that requires people to buy health insurance, the New York Times reports. More than 71 percent of Missouri primary voters on Tuesday rejected the mandate.
The referendum was the first chance voters had to weigh in on the healthcare reform.
"My constituents told me they felt like their voices had been ignored and they wanted Washington to hear them," Jane Cunningham, a state senator and Republican who had pressed for a vote, told the New York Times Tuesday night. "It looks to me like they just picked up a megaphone."
While voters delivered a message, it should be noted that voter turnout was low and Republican voters significantly outnumbered Democrats, due to several hotly contested primary races.
What's more, from a practical standpoint, the vote may have little effect, because the federal law's insurance provision does not go into effect until 2014. By then, experts say, the courts will have weighed in on the provision requiring people to buy insurance.
"There is just a backlash against everything Washington right now," C.C. Swarens, executive vice president of the Missouri State Medical Assn., which backed the Missouri ballot initiative, told the LA Times. The group was among several state doctors' groups that diverged from the American Medical Association, which supported the federal healthcare law.
For some, the outcome centered on the role of states in setting policy. "This really wasn't an effort to poke the president in the eye," Republican State Senator Jim Lembketol the New York Times. "First and foremost, this was about defining the role of state government and the role of federal government."
One liberal commentator downplayed the poll. "The Missouri vote was nothing more than a Republican straw poll," Health Care for America Now Executive Director Ethan Rome wrote in a blog post for the Huffington Post. "It lacks any legal force, and it certainly wasn't about healthcare."
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