Amendment One on this year’s ballot is another regular-like-clockwork attack on the Affordable Care Act. It targets the individual mandate, which requires that citizens be covered by health insurance or pay a penalty. Earlier this year, Florida and 25 other states challenged the mandate before the Supreme Court, which found it to be Constitutional as part of Congress’s power to tax.
Which begs the question: is there any point to amending the Florida Constitution on an issue that has been decided by the Supreme Court? Any further court challenge would be over before you can say “federal supremacy.” In the two years since the ACA passed, the Federal House of Representatives has attempted to repeal the law 33 times to no effect. Why keep trying?
According to an opinion article by Representative Stephen Precourt, the attempt is all about liberty, freedom, etc, etc. It’s a little light on substance. As those who have had a serious illness without insurance can tell you, the freedom to go broke is not all it’s cracked up to be. To date, Florida Republicans’s efforts to give citizens access to affordable insurance have not been impressive.
The League of Women Voters note that Florida is number two in the nation in uninsured citizens. They stand in opposition to Amendment One. The mandate is designed to lower cost by lowering risk, similar to our state’s auto insurance mandate. A battle over the mandate could raise costs, and prevent citizens from getting the care they need.
Another take on Amendment One comes from Rep. Scott Plakon. In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, he states frankly that there may not be a point at all. Should the amendment pass, it might just sit in Florida’s Constitution. He also indicated that the amendment might be the basis for a future legal challenge. It is difficult to imagine how it could succeed.
This has not been an easy election year for the Grand Old Party. They lost their battle at the Supreme Court over the ACA. Their Presidential candidate is not popular within their own party, and shows every chance of losing to President Obama. In the Senate, the smart money is on Nelson in Florida. Our Florida Republican Party is still in the dog house with the national party. This was obvious as Florida delegates were housed miles away from the GOP convention. Florida’s recovery from the financial meltdown lags behind the rest of the nation. With an unpopular governor, and several open seats in the legislature due to term limits, Amendment One is a risk free way of showing the base they are taking action, even if that action is only symbolic.
Our Constitution is the law of the land. Amendment One is political grandstanding at best. At worst it could lead our state into another round of pointless legal battles with the Federal government. The backers of this amendment have made their case with glittering generalities and shrugs. They need to do better before changing our Constitution.