Are Tenth-Amendment Politicians Hypocrites?

Cross-posted from State House Call.

By John LaPlante

We’ve noted many times in this space the trend of legislators across the country calling for state constitutional amendments to preserve choice in health care.

Kansas is the latest state in which legislators for such an amendment, as I mentioned yesterday. Today, the state’s largest newspaper, the Wichita Eagle, publishes an article on the declaration by Rep. Peggy Mast, R- Emporia, that she and other legislators will file legislation next session to advance the Health Care Freedom Amendment.

Among the legislators speaking out in favor of the idea is Rep. Brenda Landwher R-Wichita), who chairs the House Health and Human Services Committee.

The article includes a few people dismissing the idea, of course. A representative of the state chapter of AARP says that health care is “too important to become a turf war between the state and the federal government.”

A few Democrats, meanwhile, sought to accuse the amendment’s sponsors, all Republicans to this point, of hypocrisy: “‘State Democrats fired back that lawmakers are themselves covered by government-paid insurance. Party executive director Kenny Johnston called the proposition “a stunningly eager act of partisanship and hypocrisy.” He also called it “the Freedom from Health Care Amendment.”

Sure. Let’s review what such an amendment would actually say. Here’s the nut of the proposal (PDF) that will be on the Arizona ballot will say at the next general election (the Kansas language will probably resemble the Arizona language):

Section 2.

a. To preserve the freedom of Arizonans to provide for their health care:

1. A law or rule shall not compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer or health care provider to participate in any health care system.

2. A person or employer may pay directly for lawful health care services and shall not be required to pay penalties fines for paying directly for lawful health care services. A health care provider may accept direct payment for lawful health services and shall not be required to pay penalties or fines for accepting direct payment from a person or employer for lawful health care services.

b. subject to reasonable and necessary rules that do not substantially limit a person’s options, the purchase or sale of health insurance in private health care systems shall not be prohibited by law or rule.

The hypocrisy charge is simply baffling, as the language does nothing to deny any person who has private health insurance the right to keep it. It also does nothing to deny the right of a person qualified to receive public benefits from doing so.

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