Amendment 1 - Health care services
Updated On: Oct 16 2012 01:22:20 PM EDT
This amendment would permit the state to pull out of the federal health care program, also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It would specifically prohibit laws forcing individuals or employers to buy or provide health care coverage. Some believe if this amendment passes, it could conflict with federal law and be found unconstitutional.
Proposing an amendment to the state Constitution to prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person or employer to purchase, obtain, or otherwise provide for health care coverage; permit a person or an employer to purchase lawful health care services directly from a health care provider; permit a health care provider to accept direct payment from a person or an employer for lawful health care services; exempt persons, employers, and health care providers from penalties and taxes for paying directly or accepting direct payment for lawful health care services; and prohibit laws or rules from abolishing the private market for health care coverage of any lawful health care service. Specifies that the amendment does not affect which health care services a health care provider is required to perform or provide; affect which health care services are permitted by law; prohibit care provided pursuant to general law relating to workers’ compensation; affect laws or rules in effect as of March 1, 2010; affect the terms or conditions of any health care system to the extent that those terms and conditions do not have the effect of punishing a person or an employer for paying directly for lawful health care services or a health care provider for accepting direct payment from a person or an employer for lawful health care services; or affect any general law passed by two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature, passed after the effective date of the amendment, provided such law states with specificity the public necessity justifying the exceptions from the provisions of the amendment. The amendment expressly provides that it may not be construed to prohibit negotiated provisions in insurance contracts, network agreements, or other provider agreements contractually limiting copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, or other patient charges.
Proposes a constitutional amendment to prohibit laws from compelling any Floridian/employer to purchase, obtain or provide health care coverage. This would allow a person/employer to purchase services directly from a health care provider and allow a health care provider to accept direct payment for services if a patient chooses to pay out of pocket.
In 2010, the legislature referred a similar measure to the 2010 statewide ballot. However, the measure was removed from the ballot by court order on July 29, 2010. Leon County Circuit Judge James Shelfer said the measure was misleading and could confuse voters. On August 31 the Florida Supreme Court upheld previous lower court decisions to throw out Amendment 9.
"The ballot language put forth … contains misleading and ambiguous language. Currently our only recourse is to strike the proposed constitutional amendment from the ballot," said the justices. The 2010 legislation was sponsored by Rep. Scott Plakon and Sen. Carey Baker.
According to reports in November 2010 the 2012 proposal does not include wording that was found questionable by judges in 2010. Specifically judges questioned the following statement (which is not included in the 2012 proposed text): "ensure access to health care services without waiting lists, protect the doctor/patient relationship.”
Supporters of the proposed measure argue that the federal health care law is an abuse of federal power, in part due to the requirements that people buy health insurance.
Opponents of the proposal argue that a constitutional amendment may not ensure that citizens can opt out of the individual mandate set forth by the federal reform. They argue that the Supremacy Clause in the United States Constitution would override the state laws, making the proposed amendment a moot point.