State activists prep for health care reform nullification

STATE ACTIVISTS PREP FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM NULLIFICATION…. If Americans are lucky, later this year, health care reform proponents will overcome conservative opposition, institutional obstinacy, procedural morass, and internal Democratic division and pass a landmark piece of legislation.

And if that happens, they’ll soon after find that far-right policymakers in some states hope to block reform before it’s implemented. Indeed, they’re already laying the groundwork. Take Florida, for example, where nearly 4 million people currently have no health care coverage.

Earlier this week, Florida State Senator Carey Baker (R) and State Representative Scott Plakon (R) introduced a state Constitutional amendment that, if adopted, would prevent Floridians from enrolling in any federal health care legislation. […]

“We believe this unprecedented power-grab by President Obama and Congress is clearly not in the best interests of the citizens of Florida,” Baker and Plakon said in a joint statement. Baker, who is a Republican candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, participated in the right-wing tea parties on July 4. Both he and Plakon are sponsors of a “sovereignty” memorial, a measure meant to serve “as a notice and a demand to the Federal Government … to cease and desist, effective immediately, from issuing mandates that are beyond the scope of [their] constitutionally delegated powers.”

Their amendment to ban health care would need approval by a three-fifths vote in both the House and Senate. If passed by the legislature, Florida voters would vote on the constitutional amendment on Election Day 2010.

Texas, meanwhile, has one of the nation’s highest rates of uninsured residents — roughly one in four Texans go without coverage. Its Republican governor, Rick Perry, recently said he’s “willing and ready” to block reform from taking shape in his state, calling it “encroachment.” What’s more, Republican lawmakers in Arizona have approved a ballot measure that would, if approved, allow the state to override a federal health care law that includes individual or employer mandates.

The legality of these right-wing efforts is dubious. I imagine far-right policymakers in various states didn’t like Social Security or Medicare when they became law, either, but they’re still national programs, doing an enormous amount of good.

But it’s nevertheless interesting, since a) the fight with conservatives can continue long after reform passes (if it passes); and b) these efforts are a reminder of just how far off the ideological cliff some elements of the GOP have gone.