The Republican majority in the Georgia House revived legislation Wednesday, calling for a constitutional amendment on allowing Georgians to opt out of President Obama’s national health care reform plan.
The constitutional amendment failed to receive the 120 votes Monday for passage. It’s author, Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Canton) immediately asked the House to reconsider the vote, which followed more than two hours of passionate debate.
On Wednesday morning, the House voted 110 to 58 to reconsider Monday’s vote. That required only a simple majority of the 180-member House, but creates the possibility that the constitutional amendment could be brought back for another vote.
At the same time, a resolution was circulating among House members, calling on state Attorney General Thurbert Baker to join other attorneys general in questioning the legality of the national health care reform bill that passed Sunday night in Washington.
On the constitutional amendment, Hill told his House colleagues the goal is to protect Georgians’ 10th amendment rights and prevent Georgians “from being forced to purchase insurance, the ultimate unfunded mandate.”
House Minority Whip Carolyn Hughley (D-Columbus) countered that the proposed amendment is “nothing more than the politics of fear.”
Constitutional experts have said what the Legislature does likely won’t make any difference.
Larry Palmer, a professor of law at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., and a specialist in health law and policy, said because the health care bill ties the so-called “individual mandate” to income tax penalties and credits, the state action is likely to have little effect.
“The power of the federal government to provide incentives and disincentives through the tax code is extremely broad, ” Palmer said. “The state legislation is of no practical legal effect.”
In Atlanta, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz said that since the New Deal the courts “have generally allowed Congress very broad latitude in enacting policies designed to regulate interstate commerce and promote the general welfare.”
Besides, said Doug Miller, dean of the school of medicine at the Medical College of Georgia, the immediate impact of the bill is not fully understood.
“In all of its complexity, it is good that more people will have access to health care, ” he said, referring to the estimated 32 million Americans who will gain health insurance, a figure Rogers called “overblown.”