Can Nebraska stop parts of healthcare law?


January 10th, 2011

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Lincoln, NE – Can the state legislature prevent parts of the federal health care law from taking effect? Fred Knapp of NET News reports one state senator wants to give it a try.

Sen. Beau McCoy wants to prevent parts of the federal healthcare law from being implemented in Nebraska (Photo courtesy Nebraska Legislature)

Senator Beau McCoy of Omaha introduced a bill Monday to prohibit forcing any individual, employer or health care provider from participating in a health care system. That takes direct aim at the requirement in federal law for individuals and businesses with more than 50 employees to have health insurance by 2014 or face penalties.

“I believe it’s a fundamental flaw of the federal health care legislation,” McCoy said, “and we’re attacking it the best way we know how.”

McCoy introduced a similar proposal last year in the form of a state constitutional amendment, which would have required voter approval. That proposal died in committee. McCoy said introducing a bill, which the legislature can pass without voter approval, makes this effort different:

“We had the Health Committee that it went to last year and said ‘Well, we hesitate to put this in as a constitutional amendment not knowing what’s happening at the national level.’ Well, this allows us the ability to deal with this directly… so it can partner with what our attorney general and the other attorney generals across the country are doing.”

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has joined other attorneys general in challenging the federal law, including the individual mandate. That issue is expected to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 40 states have considered proposals similar to McCoy’s, and at least seven have passed them. Supporters say they’ll help fight back against unpopular mandates; critics says states can’t nullify federal laws and the proposals are just for political show.

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