Florida Health Care Freedom, Amendment 9 (2010)
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will not appear on a ballot
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.
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.  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.
- 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.
- 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."
- James Greer, chairman of the Florida Republican Party, said he expected to see the proposal either on the 2010 or 2012 ballot.
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.
- 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. Additionally, Gebler argued that the "supremacy clause" in the United States Constitution pre-empted the proposed measure.
- 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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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. 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."
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." 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."
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. 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.
Path to the ballot
- On Thursday, March 18, 2010 the Senate legislation was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- On March 22, 2010 the House's Health Care Regulations Policy Committee voted 10-3 in favor of the amendment.
- On April 9, 2010 the bill was indefinitely postponed following question of the bill's legality and arguments that the state's constitution was not the appropriate place to make a statement against the federal government. However, ten days later on April 19, 2010 the House Rules and Calendar Council approved the proposed measure for the ballot.
- On April 22, 2010 the Florida Legislature approved the proposed amendment for the 2010 ballot. The Senate approved the amendment with a 26-11 vote. The House voted 74-42.
Similar measures in other states
Arizona Health Insurance Reform Amendment (2010)
Colorado Health Care, Amendment 63 (2010)
Oklahoma Health Care Freedom Amendment, State Question 756 (2010)
Missouri Health Care Freedom, Proposition C (2010)
Indiana Health Care Freedom Act
Minnesota Health Care Freedom Act (2010)
New Mexico Health Care Freedom Act (2010)
North Dakota Health Care Freedom Act (2010)
Wyoming Health Care Freedom Act (2010)
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.
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.
- Florida Supreme Court officially strikes Amendment 3, 7 and 9 from ballot
- Florida's high court scheduled to rule on health care amendment ballot status
- Florida voters challenge proposed health care amendment
- Florida Health Care Freedom Act qualifies for 2010 ballot
- Health care issue being fought by ballot measures
- The Daily Loaf,"Upset about health care ruling, some Florida conservatives now want to throw 2 Supreme Court Justices off the bench," September 27, 2010
- The Tampa Tribune,"Lawmakers' initiatives deserve skeptical eye," September 9, 2010
- St. Petersburg Times,"Florida Legislature's proposed constitutional amendments keep getting bounced off the ballot," August 4, 2010
- Sun Sentinel,"Breakdown of Florida constitutional amendments on the November ballot," August 4, 2010
- The Hill,"Republicans put health reform on ballot in push to turn out conservatives," June 8, 2010
- Naples News,"Here Come the Constitutional Amendments," June 5, 2010
- Progressive States Network,"2010 Legislative Session Roundup: Florida," retrieved May 14, 2010
- Fox News,"Challenging Health Care Reform: Updates from Wisconsin, Florida, and Oklahoma," April 26, 2010
- The Florida Times-Union,"2010 Florida legislative session was a time for changes," May 2, 2010
- The News-Press,"Florida's Nov. ballot filled with controversy," April 29, 2010
- Los Angeles Times,"One nation, insured," November 16, 2009
- The Palm Beach Post,"Put patients over politics: Florida Republicans make wrong case on health care," January 8, 2010
- ↑ CBS 4,"Proposed State Bill Says No To Federal Health Care," July 30, 2009
- ↑ WTSP,"Push to exempt Floridians from federal health care," April 19, 2010
- ↑ St. Petersburg Times,"A look at the nine amendments on Florida's ballot," May 30, 2010
- ↑ The New York Times,"Florida: Health Overhaul on November Ballot," April 22, 2010
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council,"Florida Health Care Freedom Act Passes House and Senate," April 22, 2010
- ↑ Highlands Today,"Floridians to vote on Obamacare," April 29, 2010
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Herald Tribune,"Health amendment tossed off ballot; state will appeal," July 30, 2010
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 The Tampa Tribune,"Proposed state amendment would block Obama health care bill," March 18, 2010
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 The New York Times,"Health Lobby Takes Fight to the States," December 28, 2009
- ↑ The Buzz,"Gelber: Florida amendment opposing health care reform called 'ideological frolic'," March 18, 2010
- ↑ The Tampa Tribune,"Proposed state amendment would block Obama health care bill," March 18, 2010
- ↑ AllGov,"Voters Sue Florida over Misleading Ballot Language," July 1, 2010
- ↑ Courthouse News,"Florida Lies on the Ballot, Voters Say," June 30, 2010
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 Associated Press,"4 voters challenging Fla. health care amendment," July 2, 2010
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 WTSP,"Health Care Amendment in court," July 24, 2010
- ↑ Associated Press,"Judge rejects state motion on wording change," July 23, 2010
- ↑ CBS4,"Judge Tosses Ballot Amendment About Health Care," July 29, 2010
- ↑ Think Progress,"Florida Judge Throws Out Anti-Health Care Reform Ballot Measure Because Of ‘Manifestly Misleading’ Language," July 30, 2010
- ↑ Associated Press,"Judge throws out proposed health care amendment," July 29, 2010
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council's,"ALEC Decries Ruling to Remove Florida Amendment 9 from November Ballot," July 29, 2010
- ↑ The Ledger,"Health Care Heads to Fla. High Court," August 8, 2010
- ↑ Associated Press,"Florida Supreme Court to Weigh Ballot Measure Banning ObamaCare's Insurance Mandate," August 16, 2010
- ↑ WUSF,"Florida Supreme Court to Rule on Amendment 9," August 17, 2010
- ↑ Capitol News Service,"Amendment Nine in Limbo" August 18, 2010
- ↑ The Christian Science Monitor,"Florida voters can’t strip down Obama health-care bill, judge rules," August 31, 2010
- ↑ WUSF,"Three Amendments Thrown Off Florida Ballot," August 31, 2010
- ↑ Tenth Amendment Center,"Florida Senate Judiciary Committee Approves SJR 72- HealthCare Freedom Act," March 18, 2010
- ↑ Associated Press,"Fla. proposal challenges federal health care plan," March 22, 2010
- ↑ The Buzz,"House wages ObamaCare war at ballot box," March 22, 2010
- ↑ St. Petersburg Times,"Florida health care ballot measure hits roadblock," April 9, 2010
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council,"Florida Health Care Freedom Act Poised for House Consideration," April 19, 2010
- ↑ Sun Sentinel,"Health care amendment headed to 2010 ballot," April 22, 2010
- ↑ Associated Press,"Legislature passes Florida health care amendment," April 22, 2010
- ↑ Fox News, "State Lawmakers Considering Move to Opt Out of Federal Health Care", June 25, 2009
- ↑ Sunshine State News,"Florida Republicans Move Swiftly to Reject Forced Health Care," March 22, 2010
- ↑ Fox News, "Obama to Sign Landmark Health Reform Bill", March 23, 2010
- ↑ CNN, "Obama signs health care reform bill, aims to promote it on the road", March 23, 2010
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