Ohio tea party leaders say they have collected enough signatures to get a constitutional amendment added to the November ballot that would exempt Ohioans from the federal mandate to purchase health insurance.
The Ohio Project, one of the Ohio Tea Party groups, told The Columbus Dispatch they have collected more than 546,000 signatures to get an initiative added to the November 8 ballot that would prohibit federal, state, and local governments from mandating that residents buy health insurance or face a penalty. The individual mandate has been the most contested provision in the health care law passed in 2010.
Voters in Arizona and Oklahoma have already approved such a constitutional amendment, and Alabama, Florida, and Wyoming will have a similar amendment on the ballot in next year’s election.
More than 20 states have introduced legislation to have a state constitutional amendment on the ballot. Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, and Tennessee have statutes barring enforcement of the individual mandate, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit membership organization of state legislators who favor federalism.
Whether a state constitutional amendment could supersede federal law has yet to be seen. In June, a federal appeals court panel in Ohio ruled 2 to 1 that the health care law – and the individual mandate – was constitutional. In the ruling, the judges said Congress had the authority to require citizens to purchase health insurance and impose a penalty on those who refuse.