Wilson County’s Sen. Mae Beavers and Rep. Mark Pody said Wednesday they plan to sponsor a bill that could effectively negate the Affordable Care Act in Tennessee.
Based on similar legislation already introduced in Georgia, the Tennessee Health Care Freedom and ACA Noncompliance Act would prohibit any cooperation by the state or its agencies in implementing or administering the federal health care program commonly referred to as ObamaCare.
The lawmakers say the bill rests on the legal foundation known as the anti-commandeering doctrine in which Printz v. U.S. serves as the cornerstone.
In the 1997 Supreme Court case, two county sheriffs had separately challenged a provision in the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, or The Brady Bill, that required “chief law enforcement officers” perform background checks on prospective handgun owners.
The Court sided with the sheriffs, ruling that the Constitution does not give the federal government the power to make state law enforcement “fulfill its federal tasks for it.”
“The federal government does not have constitutional authority to commandeer state and local governments to enforce or implement these federal healthcare mandates,” said Sen. Beavers. “It’s time that Tennessee says no to assisting them in the implementation of this disastrous program. This legislation takes a very strong stand to resist this federal overreach of power.”
“This action, especially in conjunction with similar steps being taken in other states, has the effect of nullifying ObamaCare,” added Rep. Pody. “If the feds cannot even build an appropriate website or keep their promises to consumers, they will be extremely hard-pressed to implement the other provisions for this program within our boundaries.”
Tennessee's House Democratic leader, Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, cited concerns with the proposed bill, though.
Beavers’ and Pody’s legislation:
• directs that no powers, assets, employees, agents or contractors of the state or its local government subdivisions, including higher education institutions, can be used to implement or administer the federal health care program;
• bans Obamacare healthcare exchanges in the state;
• prohibits local governments in Tennessee from participating in or purchasing insurance from an ObamaCare health insurance exchange;
• provides that any health insurance contracts purchased in violation shall be void in a court of law in Tennessee; and
• empowers the General Assembly to enact sanctions, fines and penalties for violation of the proposed law and gives the state’s Attorney General the right to file a lawsuit against violators;
"The federal government may neither issue directives requiring the states to address particular problems, nor command the states' officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policymaking is involved, and no case-by-case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty," said Mike Maharrey, national communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center, which assisted in drafting the bill.
“There is no question that this bill sits on sound legal footing,” Maharrey said. “So, let’s focus the debate on whether or not the people of Tennessee want Obamacare. After witnessing the website debacle, watching people who wanted to keep their insurance lose it and knowing that’s only the beginning of the government-created chaos to come, I’m guessing they don’t.”
“We are a sovereign state,” Beavers and Pody continued. “We have the constitutional authority to refuse to use our state dollars and personnel to implement this disastrous federal law. We look forward to presenting this bill as soon as possible and believe it has an excellent chance for passage.”
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