Florida Healthcare Freedom, Amendment 9 (2010)

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The Florida Healthcare Freedom, Amendment 9 did not appear on the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot in Florida as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.

The measure, also known as House Joint Resolution 37, was similar to an Arizona Health Insurance Reform Amendment.[1][2][3]

The Florida Legislature voted on April 22, 2010 to place the proposed amendment on the statewide ballot. The measure, if it had been approved by voters, would have banned any laws that required people to participate in a health care system. A minimum of 60% of voters was required to approve the amendment in order for it to have taken effect.[4][5][6]

The proposed 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.[7] The Florida Supreme Court upheld the lower court's ruling on August 31, 2010.


The federal mandate violated individuals' and states' rights argued Sen. Carey Baker, a legislation sponsor. "If you believe in medical freedom; if you believe in individual rights, if you believe that you alone should have the right to decide what health care plan is best for you and your family -- if you believe in these fundamental values that our founding fathers believed in … you need to support this legislation," said Baker.[8]

  • The state chapter of the American Medical Association was in support of the proposed state amendment, however, the national organization and the state chapter were against the currently proposed congressional proposals. The congressional proposals included: expanding each state's Medicaid obligations and preemptively fighting efforts of states that might opt to pay less for drugs.[9]
  • Dr. Madelyn Butler, president elect of the Florida Medical Association, said, "We are trying to ameliorate the effects of national health care reform on the State of Florida."[9]
  • James Greer, chairman of the Florida Republican Party, said he expected to see the proposal either on the 2010 or 2012 ballot.[9]


The bill was sponsored by Rep. Scott Plakon and Sen. Carey Baker. The bill has a total of 14 co-sponsors: Sandra Adams; Jennifer Carroll; Chris Dorworth; Brad Drake; Clay Ford; Alan Hays; Mike Horner; Matt Hudson; H. Marlene O'Toole; Stephen Precourt; William Proctor; Ronald Renuart; William Snyder; Kelli Stargel. According to December 2009 the proposal now has 42 co-sponsors, all of which are Republicans.[9]


  • Sen. Dan Gelber said the proposed legislation wouldn't be a threat if Congress approved the health care legislation. The national health care reform legislation was approved by the House on March 21, 2010. "I do wish we would quit these ideological frolics," Gelber said, saying lawmakers need to focus on providing health care to the uninsured," said Gelber.[10] Additionally, Gebler argued that the "supremacy clause" in the United States Constitution pre-empted the proposed measure.[11]


See also: 2010 ballot measure litigation

Four individuals filed a lawsuit against the state regarding the ballot title and summary of Amendment 9. Plaintiffs Louisa McQueeney, Gracie Fowler, Diana Demerest and Mona Mangat said the approved ballot title and summary mislead the public of the measure's true intent. All four plaintiffs asked the court to consider the wording invalid.[12]

According to reports, plaintiffs said, "The amendment, as written, has nothing to do with any 'mandates,' nor does it explain how any such mandates 'don't work,' nor does it state how the amendment would protect against some phantom unworkable mandates." They describe the summary as "nothing more than political commentary on the federal health care reform act."[13]

Mark Herron, the attorney that represented the plaintiffs, said in an interview with the Associated Press that the ballot summary said the amendment would "ensure access to health care services without waiting lists, protect the doctor-patient relationship, guard against mandates that don't work." However, after looking at the amendment text, Herron said, "None of those subjects are specifically addressed in the amendment. It appears if the amendment is a bait and switch or flying under false colors and using political rhetoric to engender votes."[14]

Attorney General Bill McCollum announced that he agreed to defend Amendment 9. McCollum also filed a lawsuit challenging the federal health care law. "Attorney General McCollum is upholding a right that Floridians and people across the nation continue to demand in the face of big-government mandates," said Rep. Scott Plakon.[14]

Lawsuit documents: Mona Mangat et al. v. Florida Department of State (Florida Second Judicial Circuit Court)

The case was heard on July 29.[15]

Motion to strike summary

On July 23 a Leon County Circuit judge denied a motion to strike the ballot summary for Amendment 9. Opponents of the measure argued that the summary was misleading. On July 23, state attorneys requested that the summary be removed entirely and replaced with the entire text of the proposed amendment. Although the judge denied the state's request, the case continued on July 29.[16][15]

Measure removed from ballot

On July 29, 2010, Amendment 9 was thrown off the ballot following a court ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge James Shelfer. Shelfer said the measure was misleading and could confuse voters.[17] Specifically Shelfer pointed to a section of proposed measure which states that the amendment would, "ensure access to health care services without waiting lists, protect the doctor/patient relationship, guard against mandates that don't work." Shelfer said this was "manifestly misleading."[18][7]

In reaction to the ruling Jennifer Krell Davis, a spokesperson for the secretary of state's office said they plan to file an appeal. Rep. Scott Plakon said, "I think the people should be able to decide this."[19] American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) health task force director Christie Herrera said, "Judge Shelfer has put politics above the right of the people to make their own healthcare decisions."[20]

Florida Supreme Court hearing

In early August, the Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments on August 18. The high court's decision to hear the case came just as Missouri voters approved a similar proposal regarding the federal health care reform.[21][22][23][24] On August 31 the state's high 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.[25][26]

Path to the ballot

See also: Florida law for legislatively-referred constitutional amendments

In order to qualify for the November 2010 ballot the proposed amendment required approval by a minimum of 60% in the both the House and the Senate.

Similar measures in other states

Groups in Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota and New Mexico considered a similar proposal. Below are more states that considered and/or approved related proposals for the 2010 ballot.[34]

Approveda Arizona Health Insurance Reform Amendment (2010)
Defeatedd Colorado Healthcare, Amendment 63 (2010)
Approveda Oklahoma Healthcare Freedom Amendment, State Question 756 (2010)
Approveda Missouri Healthcare Freedom, Proposition C (2010)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Indiana Healthcare Freedom Act
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Minnesota Healthcare Freedom Act (2010)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot New Mexico Healthcare Freedom Act (2010)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot North Dakota Healthcare Freedom Act (2010)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Wyoming Healthcare Freedom Act (2010)

National lawsuit

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum announced that he planned to file a lawsuit against the federal mandate that every citizen have health insurance coverage. He asked other states to join him. The federal health care legislation was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Sunday, March 21 and signed by President Barack Obama on March 23. States committed, as of March 22, include South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Pennsylvania, Washington, North Dakota, South Dakota and Alabama.[35]

With the approval of the federal health care bill by United States President Barack Obama, many states began preparing themselves to combat the health care mandates that were scheduled to take place across the country. Some states considered initiatives or legislative referrals for the statewide ballots, however, in other states attorney generals announced they planned to join a national lawsuit against the legislation.[36][37]

See also

Suggest a link


External links

Additional reading



  1. CBS 4, "Proposed State Bill Says No To Federal Healthcare," July 30, 2009
  2. WTSP, "Push to exempt Floridians from federal health care," April 19, 2010
  3. St. Petersburg Times, "A look at the nine amendments on Florida's ballot," May 30, 2010
  4. The New York Times, "Florida: Health Overhaul on November Ballot," April 22, 2010
  5. American Legislative Exchange Council, "Florida Healthcare Freedom Act Passes House and Senate," April 22, 2010
  6. Highlands Today, "Floridians to vote on Obamacare," April 29, 2010
  7. 7.0 7.1 Herald Tribune, "Health amendment tossed off ballot; state will appeal," July 30, 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Tampa Tribune, "Proposed state amendment would block Obama health care bill," March 18, 2010 (dead link)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 The New York Times, "Health Lobby Takes Fight to the States," December 28, 2009
  10. The Buzz, "Gelber: Florida amendment opposing health care reform called 'ideological frolic'," March 18, 2010
  11. The Tampa Tribune, "Proposed state amendment would block Obama health care bill," March 18, 2010 (dead link)
  12. AllGov, "Voters Sue Florida over Misleading Ballot Language," July 1, 2010
  13. Courthouse News, "Florida Lies on the Ballot, Voters Say," June 30, 2010
  14. 14.0 14.1 Associated Press, "4 voters challenging Fla. health care amendment," July 2, 2010
  15. 15.0 15.1 WTSP, "Healthcare Amendment in court," July 24, 2010
  16. Associated Press, "Judge rejects state motion on wording change," July 23, 2010 (dead link)
  17. CBS4, "Judge Tosses Ballot Amendment About Healthcare," July 29, 2010
  18. Think Progress, "Florida Judge Throws Out Anti-Healthcare Reform Ballot Measure Because Of ‘Manifestly Misleading’ Language," July 30, 2010
  19. Associated Press, "Judge throws out proposed health care amendment," July 29, 2010 (dead link)
  20. American Legislative Exchange Council's, "ALEC Decries Ruling to Remove Florida Amendment 9 from November Ballot," July 29, 2010
  21. The Ledger, "Healthcare Heads to Fla. High Court," August 8, 2010
  22. Associated Press, "Florida Supreme Court to Weigh Ballot Measure Banning ObamaCare's Insurance Mandate," August 16, 2010
  23. WUSF, "Florida Supreme Court to Rule on Amendment 9," August 17, 2010
  24. Capitol News Service, "Amendment Nine in Limbo" August 18, 2010
  25. The Christian Science Monitor, "Florida voters can’t strip down Obama health-care bill, judge rules," August 31, 2010
  26. WUSF, "Three Amendments Thrown Off Florida Ballot," August 31, 2010
  27. Tenth Amendment Center, "Florida Senate Judiciary Committee Approves SJR 72- HealthCare Freedom Act," March 18, 2010
  28. Associated Press, "Fla. proposal challenges federal health care plan," March 22, 2010
  29. The Buzz, "House wages ObamaCare war at ballot box," March 22, 2010
  30. St. Petersburg Times, "Florida health care ballot measure hits roadblock," April 9, 2010
  31. American Legislative Exchange Council, "Florida Healthcare Freedom Act Poised for House Consideration," April 19, 2010
  32. Sun Sentinel, "Healthcare amendment headed to 2010 ballot," April 22, 2010
  33. Associated Press, "Legislature passes Florida health care amendment," April 22, 2010 (dead link)
  34. Fox News, "State Lawmakers Considering Move to Opt Out of Federal Healthcare," June 25, 2009 (dead link)
  35. Sunshine State News, "Florida Republicans Move Swiftly to Reject Forced Healthcare," March 22, 2010
  36. Fox News, "Obama to Sign Landmark Health Reform Bill," March 23, 2010
  37. CNN, "Obama signs health care reform bill, aims to promote it on the road," March 23, 2010