We recommend a "no" vote on Amendment 6, which will be on the ballot Nov. 6.
The proposed amendment to the state constitution, a reaction to the Affordable Care Act, purports "to prohibit any person or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system."
The Affordable Care Act mandates that most people purchase health insurance if they do not already have it. This requirement is what allows the law to, among other things, require affordable coverage of pre-existing conditions. The mandate was proposed by the Heritage Foundation and conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, all of whom changed their minds when President Barack Obama embraced the idea.
Even for those who oppose the Affordable Care Act, Amendment 6 is a bad idea.
Alabama has spent a great deal of time and money in court during the past two years pretending state law trumps federal law. It does not. The likely result of passing Amendment 6 is that our tax dollars will once again be wasted on lawyers who will, once again, discover the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Congress knows most Alabamians do not like the health-care law. Passing an amendment that will waste more money on futile litigation is an expensive way to communicate a message we already have sent.
Despite widespread hostility toward the Affordable Care Act, scheduled to take full effect in 2014, we are convinced it will be good for Alabama.
It will address the near-monopoly held by Blue Cross Blue Shield, which pushes premiums up, especially on individual policies. It will make Alabamians less dependent on their employers for health insurance. The law also will provide access to health care for most of the state's 681,000 uninsured citizens, including the 36,000 in Morgan, Limestone and Lawrence counties.
The Affordable Care Act will strengthen our hospitals and other health-care providers. By increasing access to preventive care, it will decrease inefficient visits to emergency rooms. It will nearly eliminate the losses hospitals incur when they are required to treat uninsured visitors to emergency rooms.
The law accomplishes all this while decreasing the federal deficit.
Whether you oppose or favor the Affordable Care Act, we recommend a "no" vote on Amendment 6.
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