Ohio Constitution Prohibits Legislators from Enacting State Insurance Mandates
Legal center advises Ohio legislators that mandating health treatments and benefits violates Ohio's Health Care Freedom Amendment
Columbus, OH - The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today emphasized to Ohio's state senators and representatives that the Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment, adde d to Ohio's Bill of Rights in late 2011, prohibits the state from mandating that Ohioans health insurance purchases include new previously-un-mandated benefits and services. The 1851 Center is the public interest law firm that drafted the Amendment and represents its advocates and sponsors.
The 1851 Center legal memorandum ("A Policymaker's Guide to Following the Health Care Freedom Amendment") comes in response to recent news of the Kasich Administration's purported executive action attempting to mandate that all Ohioans purchase autism-related coverage. The memorandum observes that while the Governor's action -- simply a letter to the Obama Administration recommending that it impose autism coverage on Ohioans -- may not be a forbidden "law or rule," any state legislation will indeed violate the Amendment.
Specifically, the memorandum explains that any state-based insurance mandate is highly likely to violate all three substantive provisions of the Amendment, while also transgressing its spirit and purpose:
• Most mandates will compel participation in, through purchase of coverage for, a "health care system," as that phrase is broadly defined in the Amendment. (Division (A) of Section 21, Article I).
• Mandates necessarily prohibit the purchase of insurance coverage without the newly-mandated coverage. (Division (B) of Section 21, Article I).
• Mandates impermissibly sanction those who sell or purchase private health care insurance without also purchasing the newly-mandated coverage. (Division (C) of Section 21, Article I).
"State-based health insurance mandates are one of the primary drivers of the increased cost of health insurance premiums in Ohio," said Maurice Thompson, Executive Director of the 1851 Center. " We drafted the Health Care Freedom Amendment keenly aware of this problem, and with the full intention of stopping this practice, while further ensuring that the State of Ohio does not compound the challenges presented by Obamacare's health care mandates and penalties."
The memorandum further notes that the official "arguments for" the Amendment, approved by the Ohio Secretary of State and which appeared on Ohioans' ballots, specified that the Amendment prohibited state government from forcing Ohioans "to pay more to upgrade your existing health insurance to meet government requirements," and would "[p]rohibit government from forcing you into government insurance or medical treatment you don't want."
Finally, the memorandum observes that "[i]f the purpose behind the mandate is to provide access for those who cannot afford certain types of health treatments or products, then the mandate is a poorly-adapted policy solution," because mandates conceal state spending and constitute a hidden tax, impose a one-size-fits all system in a world of varying health care needs, do not provide benefits on the basis of need, and impose greater hardships on small business and individuals than others.
Added Thompson, "although many of Ohio's elected leaders opposed the federal health care mandate and supported our Amendment, six individual health insurance mandates were introduced during Ohio's last legislative session. As the legislature begins a new session, it is our hope that clarifying the application of the Health Care Freedom Amendment to state mandates may avert unconstitutional legislation and subsequent litigation."
Read "A Policymaker's Guide to Following the Health Care Freedom Amendment" HERE.
Learn more about the Health Care Freedom Amendment HERE.
Listen to Maurice Thompson discuss the trouble with state health insurance mandates HERE.