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Beavers pulls health care bill

By Sara McManamy-Johnson sjohnson@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Jan 22, 2014 at 11:29 PM

Wilson County’s Sen. Mae Beavers on Wednesday withdrew her bill tackling the Affordable Care Act.

She said she did so to instead propose a simpler version closer in language to what other states are doing.

“We made it much simpler, and that’s just that state employees cannot be commandeered to enact federal laws,” said Beavers following Wednesday’s senate session.

The new bill, which is also called the Tennessee Health Care Freedom and ACA Noncompliance Act, is based on similar legislation already introduced in Georgia.

It would still prohibit any cooperation by the state or its agencies in implementing or administering the federal health care program commonly referred to as ObamaCare, but it clarifies that Tennessee residents are still free to participate in the federal exchange if they so choose.

“People would still be able to access the federal exchanges on the website, and if they’ve already done that, they would be able to keep that healthcare,” said Beavers. “This just has to do with state employees having to help implement the affordable care act.”

Wilson County Rep. Mark Pody is following suit with his corresponding bill in the House.

Beavers’ and Pody’s new bills seem to address concerns cited by Tennessee’s House Democratic Leader, Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, after Beavers and Pody announced their planned bills initially.

“The legislation put forward by Senator Beavers and Representatives Pody [Terri Lynn] Weaver is concerning to me in that it could result in over 36,000 Tennesseans losing the coverage they recently signed up for through the federal health care exchange,” said Fitzhugh last week. 

Beavers said that is not the case with this bill, which explicitly states: “Nothing in this section shall be construed in any way to prohibit any person from purchasing insurance from a federal health care exchange, or to invalidate any existing or future health insurance policies purchased from a health care exchange.”

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 Beavers. 

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