Petitions circulated in Michigan to exempt the state from the U.S. health care bill before the House of Representatives even voted on it Sunday.
The bill, which the House eventually approved, was signed into law Tuesday by President Barack Obama. But the Michigan Citizens for Health Care Freedom is seeking to get an exemption from the bill on the ballot for Michigan voters next November, a task requiring 450,000 signatures before July 4.
“You need the extra signatures because there are always signatures that will not be accepted,” said Joan Fabiano, organizer at Grassroots in Michigan.
If the signatures are collected, the petition would present the bill as a violation of the 14th Amendment, finance and law assistant professor Tom Anthony said.
“There are lawsuits already being filed to declare the whole thing as unconstitutional,” he said, “and I think they have a case.”
There are some states, such as Nebraska and Louisiana, that have been promised no increase in health care costs, Anthony said.
The Nebraska exception is being called the “Cornhusker Kickback,” which allows Nebraska to not pay for its expansion of Medicaid, but other states are forced to pick up the tab, according to a news release from the office of Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox. This could total more than $100 million.
There also are deals for drug companies and federal employees, Anthony said. Federal employees are allowed to have ‘cadillac,’ or high price plans, without the taxes that regular citizens may be subject to.
The petition may be supported by people concerned with its potential to harm businesses as well, he said. Businesses are required to purchase insurance for all their employees.
“The mom-and-pop businesses where most jobs are created in the U.S. … if they are forced to buy health insurance, then they’re going to have to lay people off or close,” Anthony said.
There will be a lot of work required for Michigan citizens to be able to vote on a motion this November, Fabiano said.
“It’s going to take a huge amount of time and energy and money to be successful,” she said. “The whole reason that they are even doing this is because it requires a two-thirds majority (to vote).”
Without two-thirds of the state lawmakers as constitutional conservatives, she said it is up to the people to pass the initiative. And not all the conservative groups are working toward that goal.
The Tea Party movement is focusing on other initiatives, Fabiano said, and still supports the health care petition.
“We support the resolution and all 10th-amendment resolutions,” she said. “(But) it excludes other resolutions that are being introduced.”
State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, initiated the petition, but his offices declined comment. The U.S. House also approved the Reconciliation bill, now before the U.S. Senate.