What Missouri Ballot Initiative Means for Health Care

71 percent support blocking a key provision

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Voters in Missouri have approved, by an overwhelming 71 percent of the vote, Proposition C, which states "the Missouri Statues be amended to deny the government the authority to penalize citizens for refusing to purchase private health insurance." The health care reform legislation recently passed by Congress includes a provision penalizing Americans who do not buy health insurance, the Constitutionality of which several states have challenged, most notably Virginia. What does this mean politically and what effect will it have on the health care law in and outside of Missouri?

  • Political Protest Against Health Care  The New York Times' Monica Davey calls this a case where "ordinary people made known their dismay over the issue at the ballot box. ... Supporters of the measure said it would send a firm signal to Washington about how this state, often a bellwether in presidential elections, felt about such a law. ... The referendum, known as Proposition C, was seen as a first look at efforts by conservatives to gather and rally their forces over the issue. In the end, though, the referendum seemed not to capture the general population’s attention. Instead, Republican primary voters (who had the most competitive races on Tuesday) appeared to play a crucial role in the vote’s fate."
  • Legally Dubious, but Could Bring Case to Court  The Los Angeles Times' Elliot Weiler writes, "there are questions as to whether the law can be legally enforced. Most legal experts say Prop C is a clear violation of federal law. If the new healthcare law requires people to carry health insurance, a state law can't overrule it. At a watch party for supporters in Town and Country, Tuesday, supporters remained upbeat. They're well aware the Missouri law is in direct conflict with the feds, but they see another benefit to its passage: putting federal healthcare in front of a judge."
  • Skewed By Disproportionate Party Turnouts  Politico's Jennifer Haberkorn and Sarah Kliff point out, "Missouri’s ballots had more competitive Republican primaries than Democratic ones, likely skewing support for the proposition." Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey also notes, "Bear in mind that over 315,000 Democrats turned out to cast ballots in the primary that nominated Robin Carnahan, while over 577,000 Republicans hit the polls. That is about a 65/35 split."
  • ...And Little Organized Opposition  The Los Angeles Times' Elliot Weiler adds, " The result was expected, largely due to the fact there was little organized opposition against the measure. ... Opponents of the proposition included most healthcare providers, including the Missouri Hospital Association, but there was very little organized effort to defeat it."
  • Missouri Voters Just Being Greedy  Liberal blogger mistermix sighs, "Though I’m sure we’ll be hearing how it’s part of a groundswell against Obama and Congress, I’ll take the simpler explanation that everyone wants to eat cake, but nobody wants to get fat. Mandatory insurance is the unpleasant part of HCR that makes the whole thing work, and it’s not surprising that the least palatable part of the bill is unpopular."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.