South Carolina Now 24th State to Defend Health Care Choice

Nov 23, 2009, 15:04 ET from American Legislative Exchange Council

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the nation's largest individual membership association of state legislators, congratulates South Carolina State Representative Tim Scott for pre-filing a constitutional amendment to protect the right of individuals to make their own health care choices. South Carolina now becomes the 24th state where legislators have introduced, or will introduce, legislation modeled after ALEC's Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act.


"Congress should not expect the states to blindly accept a federal health care reform bill that just keeps getting longer and more complicated at every turn. We know that creating new mandates for individuals and employers will not reduce costs or increase competition, it will trample on the rights of individuals to make their own health care choices and hurt our economy," said Iowa Representative Linda Upmeyer, minority whip, family nurse practitioner, and chair of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force.

The proposed South Carolina constitutional amendment preserves the rights of individuals to pay directly for medical care--something not allowed in single-payer countries like Canada--and prohibits any individual from being penalized for not purchasing government-defined insurance. Any state attempt to require an individual to purchase health insurance--or forbid an individual from purchasing services outside of the required health care system--would be rendered unconstitutional. The measure may also cause a federalism clash if Congress passes a law with either of these provisions.

"This is not a battle that hasn't been fought before or won before," said Christie Herrera, health policy director for the American Legislative Exchange Council, a state legislator group coordinating the effort.

"States are allowed to give greater constitutional protection than what is provided for in the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution provides a floor, not a ceiling, for the preservation of individual rights," Herrera added.

Similar constitutional amendments have been filed or pre-filed in twelve states--Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. An additional twelve states have indicated their intent to introduce this legislation--Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Montana, Tennessee, and Utah. Arizona's measure, which passed the legislature in June, will be put before voters on the 2010 ballot.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is the nation's largest nonpartisan, individual membership organization of state legislators.

SOURCE American Legislative Exchange Council