Missouri House moves to prevent federal health care overhaul

Thursday, April 19, 2012 | 4:24 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri House members renewed objections to the federal health care overhaul, approving legislation Thursday designed to block its implementation.

The measure approved by the state House declares that the federal health care law is void and has no force because Congress exceeded its constitutional power in passing the legislation. Federal officials could be charged with a misdemeanor if they take steps in Missouri to enforce the law, and state workers would not have authority to implement any provision in the health care overhaul.

The House health measure was approved 108-44, and it now moves to the state Senate.

In August 2010, Missouri became the first state to use a referendum to challenge the federal law's requirement that most people eventually get health insurance. The measure, approved with 71 percent of the vote, bars governments from requiring people to have health insurance and from penalizing them for paying their own medical bills.

Supporters of the most recent health care measure say they are trying to preserve individual rights and to protect state government from being forced to spend too much.

"We have a duty and obligation to protect the rights of our citizens," said sponsoring Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-St. Charles.

Opponents argue that the state legislature cannot nullify a federal law and that the restrictions would inhibit more popular portions of the federal health care law.

The U.S. Supreme Court considered arguments last month in a case challenging the constitutionality of the health care law.

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